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Focusing On Jobs And Helping Seniors Stay At Home Longer

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Focusing On Jobs And Helping Seniors Stay At Home Longer

Ministry of Finance

As the government continues to move Ontario forward, it will give priority to programs that both address the needs of Ontario families and strengthen the economy. One example is the proposed Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit, which, if passed, would support about $800 million in home renovation activity and 10,500 jobs throughout the Ontario economy annually.

This credit would help seniors stay in their homes longer and benefit taxpayers by relieving pressures on long-term care home costs. To continue to meet fiscal targets, the cost of this program would be offset by savings in other areas.

Effective October 1, 2011, senior homeowners and tenants, and people who share a home with a senior relative, would be allowed to claim a refundable tax credit of up to $1,500 for expenses related to permanent modifications to the home. Expenses would be eligible only to the extent that they improve accessibility or help a senior be more functional or mobile at home.

 Eligible Expenses

Examples of Eligible Expenses*

  • Certain renovations to permit first-floor occupancy or secondary suites ("granny flats" or "in-law suites")
  • Grab bars and related reinforcements around the toilet, bathtub and shower
  • Hand rails in corridors
  • Wheelchair ramps, stair/wheelchair lifts and elevators
  • Bath lifts, walk-in bathtubs and wheel-in showers
  • Widening passage doors
  • Lowering existing counters/cupboards or installing adjustable counters/cupboards
  • Light switches and electrical outlets placed in accessible locations
  • Door locks that are easy to operate
  • Lever handles on doors and taps instead of knobs
  • Pull-out shelves under counter to enable work from a seated position
  • Non-slip bathroom flooring
  • A hand-held shower on adjustable rod or high-low mounting brackets
  • Additional light fixtures throughout the home and exterior entrances
  • Swing-clear hinges on doors to widen doorways
  • Creation of knee space under the basin to enable use from a seated position (and insulation of any hot-water pipes)
  • Relocation of tap to front or side of a sink for easier access
  • Hands-free taps
  • Motion-activated lighting
  • Touch-and-release drawers and cupboards and drawers that pull out fully
  • Modular or removable versions of a permanent fixture, such as modular ramps and non-fixed bath lifts

* Rules for eligibility would be set out in legislation. This list is not complete.

Expenses would not be eligible if their primary purpose were to increase the value of a home (for example, repairs to a roof, redecorating, new windows, new flooring, landscaping, general plumbing or electrical repairs, heating/air conditioning systems or insulation). 

"Policies such as the Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit would make it easier for seniors to remain at home."

Susan Eng - Vice-President, Advocacy, CARP

Claiming the Tax Credit

To claim the tax credit, seniors or their family members would have to get receipts from suppliers and contractors.

The credit would be calculated as 15 per cent of up to $10,000 in total eligible expenses for a senior's principal residence in Ontario for a calendar year, for a maximum credit of $1,500 each year. The credit would be claimed on the Personal Income Tax return.

 For example:

1)      Sally and Joe are a retired couple in their late sixties who own a home in Aurora. Joe's difficulty in getting up stairs has meant the couple had to install a stair lift so that Joe can access the second storey of the house. Sally and Joe paid a contractor $6,000 for the purchase and installation of the stair lift. They would keep their receipt and claim $6,000 on their 2012 tax return to receive a credit of $900.

2)      Anita lives with her 75-year-old mother in a rented apartment in Thunder Bay. Anita paid $500 to have grab bars permanently installed in her bathroom to make it safer for her mother to get in and out of the bath. Anita would keep her receipt and claim $500 on her 2012 tax return to receive a credit of $75.

For the 2012 tax year only, the $10,000 maximum would apply to expenses paid or payable from October 1, 2011 to December 31, 2012.

"Residential renovation is essential to our region's economic stability and prosperity because it creates jobs while improving the existing housing stock for years to come. The entire residential construction industry is expected to bring in 165,800 jobs in new home construction and renovation in 2011, making it one of the largest employers in the region."

Paul Golini - Chairman, Building Industry and Land Development Association

Keeping Costs Down

The Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit would help seniors stay healthy and live with dignity and independence in the comfort of their own homes. It costs taxpayers more to provide care in a long-term care home than to a senior who lives in his or her own home or that of a family member.

The proposed tax credit is projected to cost $60 million in 2011-12 and would be funded by lower spending on existing business support programs in the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, as well as lower-than-forecast costs for tax-related expenditures in the Ministry of Revenue. These savings fully offset the cost of the proposed Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit in 2011-12.

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