In British Columbia, low-income surviving spouses of veterans may be eligible for a special home owner’s grant. To qualify, your client’s late spouse must have received a War Veterans Allowance, and your client must meet income and home value guidelines. Generally, the grant is available to surviving spouses whose credit has been reduced due to the assessed value of their home increasing.
In addition to being the surviving spouse of a qualifying veteran, your client must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Canadian citizen or permanent resident
- Lives in British Columbia
- Is the registered owner of the property
- Lives in the home as their primary residence
As of 2018, your client must also have an adjusted net income of $32,000 or less, and the home must be worth $1.65 million or more.
What’s the Value of the Supplement?
Generally, qualifying spouses receive $845, but that jumps to $1,045 for northern and rural areas of the province. The value of the credit may change depending on the value of your client’s home and their exact income.
How Do Your Clients Apply?
To receive this supplement, your clients must apply for both the regular Home Owner Grant and the supplement. The application for the Home Owner Grant comes with your client’s property tax notice. If they don’t receive it, you can print out the Home Owner Grant Application (FIN 78) from the provincial government’s website. This application requires your client’s name, address, date of birth, and property folio number. At the bottom of the form, you need to check box d. This indicates that your client is the surviving spouse of a veteran who received the War Veterans Allowance. Then you can send the application to the address on your client’s property tax statement. Your rural clients can apply online through the Rural Home Owner Grant application, and many municipalities also have online application options. To avoid late payment penalties, make sure you help your clients apply for this grant as soon as possible. They can apply until Dec. 31 of every year, but if they apply after the property tax due date, they’ll incur a late fee on their property tax bill.
To apply for the low-income supplement, complete the Home Owner Grant Low Income Supplement Application (FIN 65). This form is a bit more involved than the regular grant application, but it’s still relatively straightforward. With a copy of your client’s tax return and property tax bill, you should have all the information you need. Again, your clients have until Dec. 31 to apply, but they should apply as early as possible. In terms of supporting documentation, you need to include your client’s property tax notice and income tax assessment notice. If your client claimed any deductions for children, family members, or disabilities, you should also include the income tax schedules related to those claims.
Can Your Client Apply Retroactively?
If your client was eligible last year and didn’t apply, you may be able to claim last year’s credit retroactively. To make a retroactive claim, you use the same form, but if they’re applying for this year and last year, you usually need to complete two forms (one for each year).
Losing a spouse can be emotionally and financially difficult, but programs like this can help your clients with the financial aspect of their loss. If possible, get to know your clients so you can help them identify beneficial tax programs. Then, let them know about their options in advance so they’re ready when tax time rolls around.