This version of the module was published in May 2018 following amendments to the Rates Rebates Act 1973. The new material was prepared by Simpson Grierson. It was also reviewed by the Policy Group, Department of Internal Affairs.
Please note that there is a separate module for Rates - Billing and Collection Processes.
- Checking completeness of rates rebate or Section 6 refund application form
- Checking completeness of a Section 7 or 7A rates refund application form (for rating years beginning on or after 1 July 2018)
- Checking a rates rebate or refund claim for water rates
- Processing a rates rebate or Section 6 refund claim
- Processing a Section 7 or 7A refund claim
- DIA responding to territorial authority questions on applicant eligibility or information accuracy
- Crediting rates rebate (or granting refund) to applicant
- Batch claim submission and DIA receipt
- DIA batch claim processing and auditing activities applicant objections
- Applicant objections
- DIA responding to a question submitted by the territorial authority
About the Rates Rebates Scheme
The Rates Rebates Scheme was established in 1973 to provide a subsidy to low-income home owners on their rates. The following questions address some common queries.
- What is the Rates Rebate Scheme?
The Rates Rebates Scheme provides assistance in the form of a rebate (i.e. a deduction in the applicant's rates bill) to those on low incomes to assist them in meeting the cost of their rates. The Scheme also provides assistance in the form of a refund, instead of a rebate, in some cases.
- Who can apply for a rates rebate?
You have to be the legal ratepayer to apply for a rates rebate. In other words, you must be the person directly liable for the payment of local authority rates for the property that is your home. To be the legal ratepayer, and have your name on the rates bill, you must either be the owner of the property or have a specific type of lease.
- Who can apply for a rates refund?
There are three categories of applicants for a rates refund:
- A residential ratepayer may, instead of claiming a rates rebate, pay the rates in full and apply for a refund.
- The owner of an owner-occupier flat who contributes an amount towards the outgoings payable in respect of the property of which the flat forms part, may apply for a refund of part of that contribution as they would be entitled to receive by way of rebate under section 3 if— a) the flat was separately rated and the owner was the ratepayer; and b) the amount of their contribution made in respect of rates was the amount of the rates payable in respect of the flat for that rating year
- A resident of a retirement village who has a residential unit in the retirement village that is not separately rated; and who contributes to the outgoings of the retirement village may apply for a refund. The amount of the resident’s rates contribution in any rating year is the amount of the rates payable in respect of the residential unit for that rating year.
- What if an applicant has moved house during the rates year?
An applicant can still get a rates rebate if they move house, as long as they haven't claimed the rebate on their previous house. When filling out the application form, applicants need to give information about the property they sold, including the settlement date and the amount of rates the applicant paid for the current year.
If the rebate for their previous house was quite small and the rates on the new house are much higher, applicants may ask their council to have their rebate assessed again.
- Am I eligible if I 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.
- What if applicants own more than 1 property?
If an applicant owns more than 1 property, they cannot claim for other properties even if those properties are in a different council area.
- How is the rebate calculated?
The rebate covers up to two-thirds of a rates bill less a minimum contribution of $160. The rebate is further abated by $1 for every $8 by which the income of the ratepayer (and their spouse/partner) exceeds the income abatement threshold of $24.790, with an additional $500 allowed per dependant. The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has an online rates rebate entitlement calculator which can be found here.
- What is income?
DIA has provided guidance on what constitutes income. That guidance can be found here.
- Is an applicant eligible for a rates rebate if their income is over $24,790?
The applicant might be eligible, even if they and their spouse/partner’s income is over the income threshold of $24,790. Eligibility is based on their income level as well as the rates they pay and the number of dependants living with them.
- How is a rates rebate paid?
The amount of any rates rebate to which a ratepayer is entitled is usually paid as a credit to that person’s rates account. In effect the amount of rates owed by the ratepayer for the rating year will be reduced by the amount of the rebate. If a ratepayer has paid the whole rates bill for the rating year then that person is entitled to a cash refund.
- Can an applicant get any other government assistance to help them with their rates?
Besides rates rebates, applicants might be eligible for an Accommodation Supplement – they should contact Work and Income for more information.