Nunavik teachers finally win tax rebate on housing benefit
“People have been waiting years to hear back"
After a ten-year battle, Nunavik teachers and school support staff will be reimbursed after having their housing benefits over-taxed by the Quebec government.
For years, the Association of Employees of Northern Quebec argued that the Kativik School Board placed too high a value on their subsidized housing units, forcing its members to pay more in taxes than they should.
At the advice of the union, many Nunavik teachers filed objections to the notices of assessment.
“It was forcing the government to respond to all these notices,” said Patrick D’Astous, president of the AENQ. “People have been waiting years to hear back, and they’re really happy to get their money back.”
Although the Canada Revenue Agency agreed to lower the taxable amount for KSB staff in 2007, Quebec’s revenue agency only settled with the teachers’ union this past summer.
The union’s members who live in staff housing pay only a portion of what the KSB sets as the unit’s market rent, while the balance of rent is recorded as a taxable benefit on which these KSB employees pay.
Until now, a KSB employee living in a two-bedroom house would have been taxed on a monthly value of $707 in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Revenu Quebec finally agreed to look at a lower evaluation. So KSB staff will now be taxed for the same housing unit based on a monthly value of $351, which reflects the average rent paid for social housing in Nunavik.
“That’s the best evaluation we could come up with,” D’Astous said. “It’s representative of the available dwellings in Nunavik.”
The change will mean at least $1,000 in income tax savings every year for KSB teachers and support staff, D’Astous said.
And dating back to 2010, it will mean a reimbursement for the roughly 100 staff who have contested the taxable value of their housing, D’Astous said. Housing values assessed before 2010 will remain the same.
The AENQ oversaw about 30 of those appeals, D’Astous added – those staff members must first sign waivers before they can be reimbursed.
“As soon as we get those signatures, we can move ahead to get them their settlement,” he said.