Rebate claims invited

Rates rebate: you might just be entitled to one.

Last year 1848 ratepayers in the Timaru district - 8.4 per cent - received rates rebates of up to $590.

The council has already written to those people who received rebates last year, inviting them to apply again.

Anyoneelse who thinks they might be eligible is also encouraged to apply, according to council corporate services manager Tina Rogers.

The majority of superannuitants and other beneficiaries, as well as those on low incomes who own their own properties, will receive at least a partial rebate through the scheme, which is government funded.

It was not uncommon for some ratepayers to receive rebates equalling one third of their annual district council and ECan rates, Mrs Rogers said.

Many of those who received a rebate applied each year. While the council wrote to those people who had applied previously, others might also be eligible.

The council had no way of knowing when a ratepayer was receiving a benefit or whose circumstances had changed to such an extent that they were now eligible for a rebate, Mrs Rogers said.

While ratepayers can apply at any time during the year, she said many opted to do so around now, meaning they often did not need to pay any rates in December when the next instalment was due.

The scheme was introduced almost 40 years ago, but the criteria was initially so tight only a handful of people qualified each year. The new lower thresholds came in about five years ago, meaning the majority of applicants were likely to get the full $590 rebate available this financial year.

"It is purely based on income and level of rates," Mrs Rogers explained, adding the value of the property made no difference.

With the drop in interest rates Mrs Rogers said some ratepayers who might not have been eligible in the past, could now qualify as their income had reduced.

Those applying for the rebate went through an interview with a council staff member, which usually lasted about five minutes. It involved the ratepayer providing their rates notice and information about both their and their partner's income for the previous financial year. The staff member assisted with filling out the application form and calculating the rebate. This is deducted from the following rates instalment.

The Timaru Herald