Residents sign up for rates rebate scheme

By John Cousins

Thousands of low-income householders in Tauranga are taking advantage of the city council's multi-million dollar rates rebate scheme.

So far, 3200 ratepayers have applied for a subsidy on their rates, with the number tracking to slightly exceed last year's 4370 applications.

Council's land and rating information team leader Jim Taylor said it meant that nearly 10 per cent of Tauranga's 47,000 residential ratepayers were eligible. The vast majority were pensioners on fixed incomes.

The maximum rebate was $590, with last year's payout totalling $2.42 million in Tauranga. Applications were running at 2 per cent ahead of last year and had reached $1.76 million.

The Government has increased the threshold for eligibility from $23,240 of household income to $23,650. Additional income was unchanged at $500 per dependent. The maximum rebate has increased by $10 to $590.

"This means that the income threshold for a full rates rebate for the 2012-13 year is $23,650 and is increased by $500 for each dependant in the household."

Mr Taylor said that ratepayers could still qualify for a rebate even if their income exceeded the threshold - it depended on the size of their rates bill and the number of dependants.

The scheme did not apply to individual dwellings in retirement villages where the village was the owner and residents paid a licence to occupy. Mr Taylor said the Government was unlikely to change this rule even though it grated on many people living in villages who paid the market price for their property.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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