You can't have your cake and eat it all too.

Simple as that.

So why are people complaining that they no longer qualify for a Whanganui District Council rates rebate?

They appear to have one thing in common. They don't own their homes. Somebody else does.

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So why would they qualify for a rebate? They may still pay the bills, but that is an arrangement between them and whoever owns the home they are paying the rates for, surely.

Often that is a family member, or in many cases, a family trust.

Ownership is often given over, from the family's perspective, to protect the asset, for example, from the clutches of rest home fees, should that become a reality down the track.

So it's the family member, or trust, who would stand to qualify for a rebate, and of course most don't because they are not hard up. With property prices soaring, they are doing very nicely.

Nor should they qualify.

The rebate exists to assist low income, usually retired folk, continue to live in their own homes, while they are able and willing to do so - it is a precious thing. Those who meet the income test and qualify still pay plenty in rates and have little fritter money each week.

If you want to box clever and avoid certain taxes, hide wealth to qualify for assistance, then as the law stands you are perfectly entitled to do so.

But to expect a ratepayer to hand over $800 or so of their annual contribution so whoever owns your house can book another holiday in Fiji just isn't on. You ate the cake. It's gone.

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Leave what little subsidy there is to go around, go to those for whom it makes a real quality of life difference.

We know of cases where council staff have visited the homes of housebound residents and helped them with the paperwork over a cuppa and a chat. To an old person living alone that may be the highlight of their week.

It is a service worthy of protecting from those who merely seek to do-better by it.