Pensioner property rebates under the spotlight

SENIOR citizens in eThekwini Municipality who were hoping the municipality would redress the reduction in the qualifying ceiling for the application of the senior citizens rebate in the 2018/2019 budget will face disappointment once again, says the Democratic Alliance (DA).

In the 2017/2018 municipal year, senior citizens who owned property in the eThekwini were hit with the double whammy of an overall general revaluation, in which the valuations of many properties were increased by more than 20 per cent, and the reduction in the qualifying ceiling for the application of the senior citizens rebate from R3 million to R2 million.

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Warren Burne, DA Councillor in eThekwini said the city’s senior citizens will be let down once again this year.

He said the municipality’s intention, as set out in a press release issued on 20 April, seems to be that all people who are over the age of 60, and who comply with all the other requirements for the senior citizen’s rebate, will still only qualify for the rebate if their property is valued at less than R2 million.

It is only in respect of a probably very small category of senior citizens that some relief is offered.

“The proposal is that those senior citizens whose income is in the form of a pension of less than R7 000 per month, will also qualify for the senior citizen’s rebate if the value of their property is more than R2 million, but less than R4 million. This proposal is unfairly discriminately against senior citizens whose income comes from any other source, such as salary or wages, interest, or even modest profits from a business,” said Burne.

He said it must be noted that the wording of the municipality’s press release was different from the wording in the Municipality’s Draft 2018/2019 Budget, which is in its final stages of approval.

The press release states that the rebate is only generally available in respect of property values up to R2 million and that, in respect of senior citizens who receive a pension of up to R7 000 per month, they will qualify for the rebate if their property is less than R4 million.

In contrast, the wording in the Draft 2018/2019 Budget states that the rebate is available up to a ceiling of R4 million, with the proviso that those ratepayers whose income from a registered pension fund or from SASSA is less than R7 000 per month will only qualify for the rebate if the value of their property is less than R2 million.

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“It can only be presumed that the municipality’s intentions are as set out in the press release, and that the wording of the 2018/2019 budget is an aberration which will be ironed out in the final version of the budget. The press release issued by the municipality is also misleading in other respects,” he said.

Burne said it refers to the rebate as the “pensioners’ rebate”.

The conditions for the receipt of the senior citizens rebate do not in any way depend on whether or not the ratepayer receives a pension. While there are many conditions which must be fulfilled, the main condition is that the ratepayer must be over 60 years of age, and whether or not he or she receives a pension is irrelevant.

“The municipality must let ratepayers over the age of 60 know as soon as possible what the budget will provide for. The DA believes that the changes made in the 2017/2018 budget were grossly unfair on senior citizens, many of whom have been the backbone of the economy of this municipality for 40 and more economically active years of their lives. It is clear from the many submissions which the municipality received in respect of the draft amendments to the Municipality’s Rates Policy, that many senior citizens have been harshly affected by the changes which were implemented in 2017/2018,” he said.

Burne said the DA requested that the value ceiling for the senior citizens rebate should be restored to the amount of R3 million, which it was for the 2016/2017 municipal year, and for the range of property values from R3 million to R4 million, the senior citizens rebate should also be available to ratepayers whose income from any source is less than R12 000 per month.

 

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  AUTHOR
Lauren Walford
Journalist

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