Getting a rates rebate
Who can apply
If you have a low income and pay the rates on your home, you could get a rebate or reduction of up to $610. Rates rebates are administered by local councils and paid for by central government.
To apply, you must be:
- the person who pays the rates on the property that's your home
- living in your home
- listed as the ratepayer in the council's Rating Information Database (RID) — this has all the information about rates and ratepayers for every property in your council's area.
Some councils also check that your name is on the title of the property.
You can't apply if:
- you're not the legal rate payer
- your property is mainly used for commercial activities, for example farming or business
- your property is a rental property or holiday home.
If you move during the year, check with your council to find out if you can still get a rates rebate.
If you live in a retirement village
Some councils have special arrangements for people living in retirement villages under a licence-to-occupy agreement. Check with your council to find out if you can claim back some of the rates you paid.
If your name is not on the rates bill
You may still be able to apply if your name is not on the rates bill, for example if you live in an owner-occupier flat, such as a company share flat or apartment. There is an extra step in the application process.
If you own more than 1 property
If you own more than 1 property, you can't claim for other properties even if they're in a different council area.
What you get
The most you can get is $610 for the current year.
How much you can claim depends on:
- how much your rates are — this includes local, regional and water rates
- your income, and
- whether you have any dependants, such as children, living with you.
If your gross (before tax) income is $24,470 or less you can often claim the full amount. If your income is higher you may still be able to get all or part of the rebate depending on:
- how much your rates are, and
- how many children or other dependants are in your household.
If you have dependants, your income can be $500 more for each one. For example, if you have 2 children, then you would still be able to get the full rebate of $610 if your income is less than or equal to $25,470.
When to apply
You need to apply every year to your city or district council:
- after you receive your annual rates bill
- between 1 July and 30 June of the year that the rates apply to.
If you applied the year before, your council might send a new application form with your annual rates bill.
You can only claim the rates rebate once a year.
Before you apply
Before you can apply, you'll need:
- your rates bill
- ID such as your driver licence, Community Services Card or SuperGold Card
- a statement of your income for the tax year (1 April to 31 March) that ended before the start of the rating year on 1 July.
The information you need to supply varies from one council to another, so check what you need to do in your area.
Your statement of income
Information you need to provide about your income includes:
- a summary of earnings from IRD — this is a statement of all your taxable income including:
- wages or salary
- investments you've been taxed on, and
- benefits, such as NZ Superannuation or Jobseeker Support
- your partner's income if they live with you
- the income of any joint home owner living at the property
- income from benefits that aren't taxed, for example Accommodation Supplement or Recoverable Assistance Payment
- earnings from investments or shares that you haven't paid tax on in New Zealand.
If you're on a benefit, or get NZ Super or a Veteran's Pension
You need to tell your council which benefits or pension you're getting. In some cases they may ask you to contact Work and Income to get a statement of your income, although many councils won't need proof of the amount you get from NZ Super.
If you're under 65, freephone: 0800 559 009 (NZ only).
If you're over 65, freephone: 0800 552 002 (NZ only).
If you're an owner-occupier or live in a company share
If you live in an owner-occupier flat, such as a company share flat or apartment, your name may not be on the rates bill even though you pay rates.
To apply for a rebate you'll need to get the person whose name is on the rates bill to complete a declaration form saying what your total rates are and how much your share is.
- ask your council for a paper form, or
- download the form.
If you worked overseas during the year
If you worked overseas for part, or all, of the tax year you need to include this income in your rates rebate application. This may mean contacting employers or tax authorities in the country you were living in to get information about your income.
How to apply
You need to fill out a Rates Rebate Application Form and get it signed by an authorised witness. You can:
- ask your council for a paper form, or
- download the form.
If you move house during the rates year
You can still get a rates rebate if you move house, as long as you haven't claimed the rebate on your previous house. When you fill out the application form, you'll need to give information about the property you sold, including:
- the settlement date
- what rates you paid for the current year.
If the rebate for your previous house was quite small and the rates on your new house are much higher, ask your council if you can have your rebate assessed again.
If you run a business or earn money from home
You need to declare this on the form.
Getting your application witnessed
You need to confirm on the form that the information you've provided is true. You do this by signing it in front of an authorised witness. People who can authorise your signature include:
- an authorised council officer
- a Justice of the Peace (JP)
- a chartered accountant, or
- a minister of religion.
Getting the rebate
Your council deducts the amount of your rebate from your rates bill. If you've already paid your rates in full they'll give you a refund.
If you get the Accommodation Supplement
If your rates rebate is approved and you're getting the Accommodation Supplement, you need to tell Work and Income.
Other help with housing costs
If you don't qualify for a rates rebate, check with your local or district council to find out if they'll let you postpone or defer paying your rates.
Other housing help
If you're on a low income you might be able to get help from Work and Income with housing costs.
You may also be able to get help from central government or your local council to find somewhere to live that you can afford.