Skip to content

Renters rebate ripe for the picking for qualifying Victorians

The $400-rebate is just one of several notable changes this tax season
Jack Sandor speaking on the renter rebate at Saanich Municipal Hall. He is happy to be able to claim the rebate, but says it isn’t a substitute to changes need to solve systemic issues in the rental market. (Mark Page/News Staff)

Though the provincial government is working in many ways to try to alleviate the financial burden for renters, including by pouring money into new builds and by altering tenancy law, an initiative with a more immediate impact is fast approaching — the rebate for B.C. renters to claim on this year’s taxes.

University of Victoria professor and tax expert Douglas Stuart explained how people can claim the rental rebate, while also going over a few other of this season’s tax changes.

Beyond the $400-rebate for qualifying renters, other notable changes include a home sales tax adjustment, a new tax credit for renovations aimed at providing space for ageing family members, and the end of a COVID-era method for deducting home office expenses.

Some of these will boost taxpayers budgets, others could mean more money for government.

In the plus column for taxpayers is the new multi-generational family tax credit, allowing people to claim up to $7,500 against up to $50,000 worth of renovations, but it must be money paid to renovate a home to provide accommodation for a family member over the age of 65, or a disabled adult over the age of 18.

The new home sales tax adjustments — not to be confused with the 20-per-cent home-flipping tax coming into effect next year — mean people who sell a property after owning it for less than one year must now pay tax on the full amount of profit, instead of just capital gains tax on 50 per cent, which was how it was typically done previously.

And for those who work at home, the ease with which home office supplies were claimed during the pandemic is ending. That provision allowed for a basic $2 per day claim, but now full details will need to be given in the same way these expenses were claimed before COVID altered the way people work.

For the renter’s rebate, Stuart said there are a few requirements that must be met before people submit the B.C. form 479 to claim this.

First, they must have been a B.C. resident at the end of 2023, and cannot have been incarcerated for more than six months of the year. And the rebate cannot be claimed for rent paid to a family member, nor can it be claimed for moorage of a boat, or for a mobile home pad.

To be eligible, people also need to meet income requirements. The full credit is available to those with household income less than $60,000 year, and a partial credit for those earning up to $80,000. Just one person in a marriage or common-law partnership can take the credit. Roommates living together can each take the credit, however.

This rebate is also refundable, meaning it can take a person’s payable income tax below zero and result in a return.

Local Saanich renter Jack Sandor is claiming the credit, and he gave his thoughts while discussing housing-related issues at the Saanich Municipal Hall last month. He is certainly grateful for the boost, but said it is not going to fix problems that have kept him renting in a run-down house because he can’t afford better despite his income as an apprentice electrician.

“It’s not nothing, but it’s not going to do anything to solve the actual systemic issues,” he said. “It’s a Band-Aid. I’m glad it exists, but we need a lot more to actually tackle this.”

Antonia Mah of the Victoria’s Together Against Poverty Society expressed a similar sentiment.

“Every little bit helps, and it’s a sign that the provincial government is taking the rental prices seriously,” she said after the provincial budget was released in late February. “However, rent rebates, just like subsidies, enable landlords to be able to charge higher rent, which ultimately is counterproductive to addressing affordability.”

What she was interested in is the ability this will give the Canada Revenue Agency to track landlord’s rental income.

“We think that this will be an opportunity for the government to gather a lot of data for the first time about how many landlords in B.C. are actually paying taxes on their rental income,” she said.

Stuart confirmed this could be a possibility.

“Certainly that information might be used by the CRA to then look to the other side, and make sure that income inclusions by other taxpayers are complete,” Stuart said.

From the government’s perspective, the rebate addresses the need to give renters a boost as they deal with the realities of rising rents, while also providing a measure of fairness as renters aren’t able to access some credits available to homeowners.

“I think it’s going to really come in handy and be supportive for people at a key moment when they see that extra 400 bucks,” Premier David Eby said last month. “We need to recognize that people are not really having the choice to keep renting, and so why would all the tax benefits go exclusively to homeowners.”

READ MORE: B.C. tables house-flipping tax, to come into effect Jan. 1, 2025

About the Author: Mark Page

Read more