Surrounded by a group of local seniors Tuesday morning, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Leeanna Pendergast unveiled a new provincial tax credit aimed at offsetting rising electricity prices.
Seniors stand to gain the most under the proposed new Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit, though the measures will apply to some 2.8 million low- and middle-come residents. Ontarians who own or rent a home could receive up to $900 in tax relief, with seniors able to claim up to $1,025.
The program is an enhancement on tax credits introduced last year, increasing the number of eligible recipients and boosting the total amount mailed back to citizens, Pendergast explained.
“This is a welcome program for seniors. It’s to help them run their households and stay in their homes.”
Both property taxes and utility bills in most municipalities have been increasing at rates far above inflation. For those with lower earnings, particularly seniors on fixed incomes, the credits help with higher bills. The new measure in part addresses higher electricity bills now subject to the HST.
“Helping seniors is a key priority for the Ontario government,” she said. “We value the great contributions seniors have made in making Ontario a great place to live for all, and today’s announcement will help seniors on fixed incomes live a little easier in their own homes.”
In announcing legislation to enable the credits, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan noted the new measures are part of an overall tax-relief plan. Income tax cuts that came into effect last January have lowered income taxes for 93 per cent of residents, representing an average tax savings of $200 per year.
If the credit goes ahead, it would be paid as a lump sum starting with the 2010 tax returns. In subsequent years, it would be paid quarterly.
In combination with other quarterly tax credits, including the HST program, some residents could receive a cheque in their mailboxes pretty much every month, Pendergast suggested.