Hundreds of B.C. new home buyers have not been paid their full HST rebate cheques because of a mysterious legislative delay involving the provincial and federal governments.
In February, former finance minister Kevin Falcon delivered what was supposed to be great news for the real estate market. Buyers in Vancouver especially were sitting on their hands waiting for the HST to be repealed, industry advocates said, so Falcon promised an enhanced HST rebate on new homes valued up to $850,000.
The new rebate threshold would come into effect on homes purchased after April 1, the government said, and like the previous rebate covering homes valued up to $525,000, either the buyer or seller would apply for the rebate to the Canada Revenue Agency.
It sounded like a done deal.
But months after applying for their rebates purchasers like Liz Chaston — strata council president in a new condo building in Vancouver — were frustrated to learn that the provincial and federal governments were not on the same page.
In a number of calls Chaston and others in her building were told by clerks in the CRA rebate office that the provincial government had not signed new laws needed to make the enhanced rebate flow.
Finally at the end of August, Chaston received a cheque covering the old rebate maximum of $26,250.
She and others received a letter from the CRA saying: “The regulations that would give effect to the enhanced new housing rebate for the provincial part of the HST … have not yet become law … once the regulations become law, your rebate will be reassessed.”
Chaston was happy to finally get some of her payment, but she was still owed $16,000, with no idea when new laws will be passed to enable her full payment.
When Chaston took the problem to the office of her MLA Margaret MacDiarmid, contrary to what CRA clerks told her, she was told that all provincial legislation related to the enhanced rebate has passed, and the federal government has not yet approved regulations.
Chaston said all she can be sure of is that she’s caught in a sea of red tape, and this is yet another chapter in the provincial government’s ongoing HST debacle.
“At the end of the day, after the referendum results, the HST should have been repealed immediately,” she said. “The government is out of tune with how angry people are about the HST.”
Chaston said she believes up to 50 home buyers in her building may be impacted.
Another resident in the building who is owed $14,000 and did not want to be named, said she believes this is a case of the two governments playing pass the buck.
“It’s a huge inconvenience and frustrating experience for people if they don’t know what the time-frame (on receiving the promised rebate) is,” she said.
In a number of calls to both the provincial and federal government, including both finance ministries, The Province was unable to get a direct answer on exactly who is responsible for the legislative delay.
New finance minister Mike de Jong was not available for comment.
CRA spokesman Dave Morgan said that since April 1, 2012, the CRA has received a total of 330 claims and has processed 259 of them up to the current allowable maximum of $26,250. The remaining 71 claims should be processed by the end of September, Morgan said.
He said questions about when new laws will be passed should be directed to Department of Finance Canada. The department did not respond by deadline for this story.
Morgan and a provincial government spokesman said that the majority of new home purchasers eligible for the enhanced HST credit would have been reimbursed at the point of sale by home sellers.
Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Home Owners’ Association, said “I’ve called around to some of the real estate offices I know, and they’ve certainly had a bit of a problem where some people have taken up to nine months to get their refund. It is the CRA that seems to be the delay, more than anything.”
Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/business/home+buyers+frustrated+over+delay+receiving+rebate+cheques/7209536/story.html#ixzz25weCNUkR