Manitoba caps school tax rebate for farmland

Manitoba farmers who get rebates on the education portion of the property taxes paid on farmland will see a lid placed on those rebates starting with this tax year.

Finance Minister Stan Struthers’ budget on Tuesday capped Manitoba’s farmland school tax rebate at $5,000 — and also limited it to eligible farmland owners who are also Manitoba residents. Both moves take effect for the 2013 tax year and are expected to save the province $6.2 million in 2013-14.

Also for the 2013 tax year, applications for the rebate for a given tax year must be filed no later than March 31 of the following year, the province said. Applications related to the 2011 and 2012 property tax years have until March 31, 2014 to apply for the rebate for those years.

Also coming out of Tuesday’s budget, farmers eligible for the province’s 10 per cent non-refundable corporate income tax credit on odour control investments will see that credit expanded.

The odour control tax credit, set up in 2004, applies to businesses that invest in capital property “for the purpose of preventing, eliminating or significantly reducing nuisance odours arising from the use or production of organic waste.”

The 10 per cent credit had been made refundable for farmers, based on income tax and on property tax on farmland paid by the farmer. However, Tuesday’s budget eliminates the cap, making it fully refundable to farmers — both individuals and corporations — on qualifying property purchased after 2012.

Struthers, a former provincial ag minister, on Tuesday projected a $518 million deficit for 2013-14, up $65 million from the $583 million deficit projected for 2012-13.

His budget extended a 20 per cent reduction in ministerial salaries and froze or reduced budgets for 11 provincial departments.

“Consolidating”

Cuts have already hit the province’s agriculture, food and rural initiatives (MAFRI) department through consolidations of several regional offices, which took effect immediately when announced last Thursday (April 11). They include the closures of regional MAFRI offices at Neepawa, Treherne, Stonewall, Shoal Lake and Boissevain.

Offices for Manitoba Agricultural Services Corp. (MASC), the provincial ag insurance and financing agency, will remain open in Neepawa and Stonewall.

Farmers who had used the Treherne office will now be directed to Somerset, where Treherne staff will now work, and to Portage la Prairie. Stonewall office staff will be merged into MAFRI’s Teulon office and farmers served from Teulon and Beausejour, while the Neepawa office will be merged into Minnedosa’s, and farmers also served through Carberry and Gladstone.

Shoal Lake staff, meanwhile, will move to MAFRI’s Russell office, and service provided from Minnedosa or Hamiota; service formerly provided in Boissevain will be provided from Killarney, Melita, Souris and Brandon.

Several offices with the conservation and water stewardship, infrastructure and transporation and entrepreneurship, training and trade departments were also consolidated last week.

“By using our offices more efficiently, consolidating government services and eliminating unnecessary and outdated funding, the government will be able to provide better services while saving taxpayers money,” Struthers said last Thursday.

Other general budget moves announced Tuesday include:

  • an increase in the general provincial sales tax (PST) to eight per cent, up from seven, effective July 1;
  • a new fuel tax rate for natural gas used in motor vehicles, starting immediately at three cents per cubic metre, then increasing to six and 10 cents on March 31, 2014 and 2015;
  • a rebate for school taxes paid by eligible senior citizens on qualifying residential properties, starting in 2014; and
  • immediate increases in the tobacco tax rate to 29 cents per cigarette, up from 25 cents; to 28 cents per gram, up from 24, on fine-cut tobacco; and to 26.5 cents per gram, up from 22.5, on raw leaf tobacco.

Related story:
Manitoba to shut two ag department offices, Nov. 30, 2012

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