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B.C. chops $11 million from home owner grant

Some B.C. home owners have discovered they're paying more in property tax this year because of a cash clawback by the provincial government.

The provincial finance ministry reduced the threshold to qualify for the full home owner grant toward property taxes from $1.295 million in 2013 to $1.1 million this year.

That means homes assessed between those two amounts have now lost some or all of the home owner grant they previously received, leaving a higher property tax bill to be paid.

Finance ministry spokesman Jamie Edwardson said the change reduces or eliminates the home owner grant for 18,000 property owners, or about 1.5 per cent of the ones previously eligible.

Just over 93 per cent of B.C. home owners now qualify for the grant, down from about 95 per cent last year.

Assessed property values decreased in many parts of the Lower Mainland over the past year, although not by anywhere near as much as the 15 per cent cut in the threshold for the home owner grant.

Edwardson said the reduced threshold "means we are able to direct approximately $11 million to other priority programs."

He noted the province has low-interest loan programs that allow many home owners – including those over 55, people with disabilities and families with children – to defer some or all of their property taxes until they sell their home or it becomes part of an estate.

The home owner grant is worth $570 and is reduced by $5 for every $1,000 in assessed value over the threshold, meaning there's no grant on homes worth more than $1.214 million.

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