• Jeff Sproul

If Only There Were Rebates Available

There are numerous programs and rebates that have been developed by all levels of government for the benefit of their citizens. However, in many cases, these are not effectively publicized or shared with the constituents.

A perfect example comes from a recent client meeting where it was shared that our local region has put into place a program which allows home owners to defer payment of property tax increases until such time as their home is sold. The only restrictions are that the home is the primary residence and one of the owners is age 65 or older.

Obviously this would be of interest to a number of households and likely financially beneficial. However, there are a couple of things you should be aware of. The client was able to learn about the program by reading the fine print on the back of her property tax bill from the town. Now only a few people are going to be diligent enough to read the print on the back of an invoice. To learn more about the process, I looked at my own tax bill and there was no information on the back page. It was a different town, but the same region, hmm? So I went on a fact finding mission to try and learn more about the program and also find a source that could be shared with others. A search on the internet using obvious key words only produced a long list of programs that would prove beneficial to many, but not the program I was looking for. I then searched our town website and sure enough, up came a notice on the program mentioned above. All the information the client had shared was correct, but the deadline for the program had unfortunately passed by the time of writing this article.

So what did I learn from this exercise? It seems that, yes, there are numerous programs, subsidies, rebates and benefits offered by all levels of government that are available to people. However, finding out about these initiatives in a timely manner is not as easy as one would expect.

In an age of information and the speed with which it is supposed to be shared and accessible, it seems that the good old fashioned word of mouth method is the most effective. This, of course, assumes that someone is able to obtain the information in the first place. This leads to the question of how does one learn about these initiatives? My suggestion is to reach out to your elected officials and ask them. Whether it is your local Member of Parliament (MP), Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP), Town Mayor,or Town Counsellor, they should all have access to this information and be able to provide you with the details required, or direct you to an individual or department who can. Regular contact with these individuals will provide much needed access to information. Once obtained, then word of mouth can take over. Now remember, not all programs are for everyone. There are of course the restrictions or conditions which are outlined in the initiative.But there is also the important question - is this applicable, appropriate and advantageous to me and/or my current situation?

Another way to look at this would be to draw a parallel to the so called “junk mail”. We have all had our mail boxes full of flyers and coupons on many occasions. For the most part we consider this to be too much information and a waste of time. However if you take the time to filter through the information, you may find a coupon or deal that could prove beneficial to you. For example, if you were heading to the grocery store to purchase a certain product, and in the pile of papers there is a coupon which saves you a $1.00, would it not be worth using that coupon? You must then consider the time it took you to source the coupon. It is a bit of a catch 22. If you are willing to spend the time you can potentially save money. However your time also has a value. It is a question of which is more valuable.

The key is to find an efficient way to stay informed and weed out the “junk”. Time is money, but a good investment of time also has the potential to save you a lot of it.

If you would like to learn more about the Property Tax Increase Deferral Program, please contact your local municipality to see if it might benefit your household.


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