Tuesday, July 10, 2012

(Mostly) Free Money!!

Oh how time flies! It seems like it was just the other day I was writing about how certain members of City Council were trying to take money from one program to put in to the Home Renovation Tax Assistance (HRTA) program instead. Well, the HRTA program is still around (and still is a great program if you ask me) and is only just finally going to council for approval tomorrow. The report that is being submitted can be found here. In previous years the HRTA funding status has been passed and put into play by the end of May at the latest.

Assuming I am reading the report correctly, it seems as though they haven't been using all of the funds (good thing Russ Wyatt wanted to put more in it).
"The transfer of $339,964 of prior years’ unspent HRTA program budgets to the Planning, Property and Development Department’s (PP&D) 2013 operating budget will allow for up to 1,319 approved applicants. The $339,964 represents one-third of the available unallocated Program credits of $1,019,981 currently credited to the Housing Rehabilitation Investment Reserve (i.e. $829,389 as at December 31, 2011 plus
$190,502 in unused credits from the 2012 budget year).
Again, I think this is a great program that "...reduces the perception that property owners are penalized by tax increases for improving their properties and it encourages property owners to take out building permits thereby promoting the quality of construction in meeting applicable building, electrical and plumbing codes. ...also encourages energy efficient renovations by providing additional tax credits through harmonization with the technical requirements of the Manitoba Hydro Power Smart Program" and I think that three major factors are keeping people from using it.

First, and I'm sure there are a few of you out there who can chime in with personal stories attesting to this; the length of time it often takes to get a permit. If you want people to do things in a certain way, it's probably best to make it easy for them.

Second, does anyone even know about this program? Perhaps when they mail out property tax bills they should notify all of the eligible homeowners - it should be simple enough to tell the computer who gets that message printed on their bill (assuming it passes, that would be anyone who has a house built before January 1, 1987 and valued at less than $218,000).

Third, although the credits can be received retroactively, they need to have their ducks in a row long before July 11th. Especially in a year like this where the outdoor construction season got such an early start. It also doesn't do anyone much good if they are completing projects that qualify for the program that don't normally need permits (to get the credit you still go through the motions of getting one). Why, especially if I didn't know about this program, would I go down to the permit office and get a "permit" for replacing my roof or windows? As well, I happen to know that it can be applied for retroactively, however I don't see that information anywhere on the HRTA part of the City site.

A quick synopsis of how to get your free money from the City of Winnipeg (it is being asked that the same guidelines below be used for 2012). Receive up to $2250, at a maximum of $750 per year off your property tax, based on this criteria:

Eligible Renovations
The 2011 Home Renovation Tax Assistance Program has two categories of eligible renovations:
  • Standard Renovations – Generally, the following standard renovations are eligible for a 5% tax credit:
    • Renovating kitchens, bathrooms and unfinished basements.
    • Building an addition to a home that will be utilized as a year-round living space.
    • Installing, repairing or upgrading a plumbing system or electrical system or a ventilation system, but not including an air conditioner.
    • Reinforcing or repairing a foundation or basement, including weeping tile, excavation and related landscaping.
    • Home security alarms
    • Installing or repairing exterior sheathing, roofing, shingling, soffits, fascia, eavestroughing, doors or windows (excluding skylight windows).
    • Installing or repairing a water or sewer system, including excavation and related landscaping.
    • Purchasing and installing a low flush toilet.
    • Modifying a home to accommodate a disabled person or renovating for reasons of safety or occupant health.
    • Repairing a home to ensure or maintain compliance with the Maintenance and Occupancy By-Law.
    • Constructing or repairing a deck, verandah or garage.
  • Energy Efficiency Renovations – Generally, the following energy efficiency renovations that meet or exceed Manitoba Hydro Power Smart guidelines are eligible for a 8.33% tax credit:
    • Renovating an unfinished basement with insulation to the walls and floors.
    • Upgrading a primary heating system.
    • Upgrading an electrical system.
    • Upgrading a ventilation system.
    • Insulating walls and an attic.
    • Upgrading and insulating doors and windows.
For further information, visit the Manitoba Hydro website at www.hydro.mb.ca.
Ineligible Renovations
Generally, the following renovations are ineligible:
  • Building or repairing a fence, driveway, patio or sidewalk unless necessary to maintain the structural integrity of the home or for safety or occupant health reasons.
  • Installing or repairing a play structure or swimming pool.
  • Landscaping, unless related to excavation work.
  • Interior decorating such as installing wallpaper, blinds or drapes.
  • Interior and exterior painting and installing or repairing floor covering unless related to eligible renovations, necessary to maintain the structural integrity of the home or for safety or occupant health reasons.
  • Installing or repairing a household appliance, skylight windows, fireplace, hot tub or jacuzzi, secondary heating system, heat pump unless it is the primary heating source, air conditioner, back-up generator,  air purification system, radio or television antenna or satellite dish, lawn sprinkler system, awnings or any improvements that are not permanently affixed to a home.
  • Modification to a home to allow a non-residential use or multi-family use.
  • Constructing or repairing an accessory building such as a greenhouse, gazebo or sunroom.
So, there you have it. Spread the word, tell your friends and neighbours! And while you're at it, ask you local counicllor why you didn't know about this sooner and why it's only being passed in July.

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