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Rates rebates hits $26 million mark

15 October 2006

Rates rebates hits $26 million mark; more households become eligible

Tens of thousands of New Zealand households are making use of this Labour-led government's expanded rates rebates scheme as Local Government Minister Mark Burton announced today that rates rebates totalling more than $26 million had been approved to date.

"Rates rebates totalling $26,908,316 have been approved for 59,560 households around the country. Clearly the message is getting out to our communities and many of those who are eligible are taking this opportunity to reduce what they pay in rates," Mark Burton said.

"The changes made by this government to the rates rebates scheme mean more money in the pockets for thousands of New Zealanders, particularly for those on fixed or lower incomes such as the elderly. I would encourage all those who think they may be eligible to check with their local councils once they receive their first rates notice."

"The more than fifty-nine thousand applications approved for a rates rebate in the first few weeks of this rating year compares with the 4,200 applications approved for a rebate during the whole of the 2005/06 rating year under the old scheme. This is even though a number of councils are still to send out their rates invoices," Mark Burton said.

Under this government's expanded scheme many more New Zealand families are eligible for a subsidy to help pay their rates bill. The key changes to the scheme included:

- An increase in the maximum rebate from $200 to $500;
- In most cases the income threshold under which people will be eligible for a full rebate is to increase from $7,400 to $20,000;
- Quite a number of people earning over this figure will also be eligible to receive a rates rebate depending on their rates bill;
o For example, a married couple who received New Zealand Superannuation of $24,456 and are paying annual rates of $1,746 or more would still be entitled to a maximum rates rebate of $500;
- An increase in the additional income allowance for each dependent from $156 to $500.

Additional enhancements made to the scheme, which came into effect this month, mean that more households will be eligible to receive rates rebates. The enhancements also mean that some people who were already eligible will receive higher payments.

The changes to the scheme exclude some allowances from the definition of income, as they operate more as reimbursements than income. The relevant benefits and allowances are:

- Disability and Child Disability Allowances
- Orphan’s and Unsupported Child’s Benefit
- Home Schooling Allowance.

Councils processing applications have been advised to exclude these payments from calculations of an applicant’s income. Any applicants who’ve had their application declined because these benefits were included may submit a new application. Applications already processed by the Department will be reviewed and councils advised if any additional rebate is to be granted.

Application forms for the 2006/07 rating year are available from local councils and on the rates rebate website www.ratesrebates.govt.nz. The site also contains a calculator to help people check their eligibility.

ENDS


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