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New procedure for Home Owners Grant in Prince Rupert

Municipalities no longer oversee the applications - the province does
The Home Owners Grant has a new application process for which steps have been mailed with the residential property tax bills. Payments and applications are due according to the information provided by the City of Prince Rupert. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Prince Rupert residents who own residential property need to know that the Home Owners Grant which has been annually applied for through the City of Prince Rupert has changed procedures in all B.C. municipalities for 2021, Corrine Bomben, chief financial officer for the city, said.

The Home Owners Grant is a property assistance program offered by the provincial government. This year the program has been assimilated back under provincial oversight.

All homeowners must now apply for the grant online, and if there is difficulty doing so a phone number is provided with the property tax bill. The lateness of payments and application for the grants will incur penalties.

“We are just hoping everyone gets their payments in on time. The penalties are a legislative requirement,” Bomben told The Northern View, on June 7.

“This year [home owners] will no longer sign at the bottom of the property tax notice for your homeowner grant given the province has made a change,” Bomben said.

The usually perforated section at the bottom of the bill, which is returned to City Hall with the payment, will no longer be included with the invoice.

“You must now apply for your homeowner grant online or by phone. We cannot accept your homeowner grant application at City Hall because the province has taken it over,” she said.

Bomben said the homeowner grant is available to all who are eligible and pay property taxes. The grant must be applied for each year.

“There is no change to program eligibility, details of which can be found on the reverse side of your property tax bill as well as online,” the CFO said.

Eligible homeowners need to claim the grant right away she said, as unclaimed grants are subject to the same penalty as late payment of taxes.

“Please apply for your grant well in advance of paying your taxes to ensure we receive notice of your claimed grant,” Bomben said.

To apply online, or on the phone, applicants will need their property tax bill as well as their social insurance number.

Residents are encouraged to read their entire property tax bill from front to back Bomben said, and to also read the tax information supplement.

“We’ve included important information on it, such as the many ways you can pay your property taxes, the due dates, information on claiming your homeowner grant, and a message from our mayor.”

Property taxes may be paid in a variety of ways Bomben said, but tax payors must note the deadlines listed in the tax supplement to ensure on-time payment.

Payment may be made with a credit card, but the city can not take it directly. It uses a third-party app to collect payments which can take up to five business days to process. So, leaving a credit card payment until June 26 may incur penalties.

Online payments through banking systems must be made by June 27 to allow a minimum of four banking days to ensure the payment is processed. This is the same for telephoning the bank.

Cheques, money orders, and debit payments can be made in person at City Hall during business hours, weekdays between 9:30 to 4:30 p.m.

If mailing a cheque, homeowners should note that a postmark will not be accepted as the date of payment.

 K-J Millar | Journalist 
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