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Do You Know About the Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit?

12 December 2012

So often when we talk about home renovations we’re talking about adding on a new room for your own enjoyment, or ripping up the lino floors because you just can’t stand them for one more second. We also often talk about home renovation financing, and how you can use the equity in your home to help improve it. But what about necessary renovations? Not repairs, but those “extras” that you may need in your home just to keep it safe for you? What renos are those, and is there a better way to help you pay for them?


Seniors often have to make renovations to their home in order to make their outside steps safer (with ramps or long rails leading down the entire driveway,) or handrails in the bathtub that allow one to get in and out easily – and keep their independence. These are necessary renovations. And now, if you’re a resident of Ontario you can get help with them through the Ontario Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit.

The Healthy Homes tax credit is open to anyone who’s 65 years or older in Ontario, and it’s designed to help offset the cost for seniors who need these renovations done to their home.

The credit works very easily. Any senior, or family member who lives with them, can claim up to $10,000 on their annual tax return for home renovations that make the home safer for the senior. Expenses must be claimed in Schedule ON(S12) on form ON479, next to box 6311. For eligible expenses, our government will reimburse you 15 per cent of your expenses. So if you spend the entire $10,000, you’ll receive $1,500 back.

Because the tax is new, in the 2012 tax year you’ll be able to claim expenses for any work done from October 1, 2011 to December 31, 2012. After this tax year you’ll be able to claim expenses for any work done within the tax year for which you’re filing.

It’s extremely important that all receipts for work done is kept and stored. While you won’t need to submit these with your tax return, they’re good to have on hand should Canada Revenue Agency ever want to see them.

So, what work qualifies under the credit? Unfortunately, not everything and anything you can do to your home. The expenses need to clearly show that work was done in order to make it safer for a senior, and the Province of Ontario has some examples:

  •  Creating first-floor occupancy, or an in-law suite for a senior
  • Grab bars and handrails around places of concern such as the bathtub and toilet
  • Handrails in hallways
  • Wheel-in showers
  • Lowering of existing cupboards and counters
  • Non-slip flooring
  • Hands free faucets
  • Motion or sound activated lighting
  • Switching out doorknobs for lever handles
  • Automatic garage door openers
  • Touch and release drawers and cupboards
  • Walk-in bathtub

By taking advantage of this tax credit, and using a HELOC or home equity loan to pay for the work upfront, renovations are becoming more stress-free than ever. Especially for those people who need them the most!

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