Heritage Property Tax Reduction Program Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Heritage Property Tax Reduction Program?
In 2001, the Provincial government through the Municipal Act enabled municipalities to implement on-going tax relief programs for properties designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. The City of Windsor first offered heritage property tax relief in 2004 with a ten-year pilot program in Sandwich. Then in 2015, the City began offering tax reductions (portion of municipal and school levies) to individually designated properties city-wide as rebates for eligible works conducted on the property.
Why is the City involved in this program?
The program is not intended to compensate heritage property owners for any real or perceived increase in expenses or responsibility resulting from designation. Rather, the program is provided by the City in recognition that private property owners have committed to protecting and conserving Windsor’s heritage resources. Their commitment enhances the quality of life of all residents, who can enjoy the irreplaceable public benefit afforded by Windsor’s built heritage.
Who is eligible for the program?
Owners of properties designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act are eligible. Property owned by a federal, provincial or municipal government agency is not eligible. Also, if the property is subject to any contraventions, work orders, outstanding municipal fines, arrears or tax fees or penalties, the property is ineligible.
What is the maximum heritage tax reduction available?
The maximum amount is 30% of three years’ property taxes or the total expenditure on eligible projects, whichever amount is lower. If the eligible amount is more than 30% of one year’s taxes, the additional amounts will be returned in later years.
What is “Eligible Work” under the program?
“Eligible Work” includes the restoration of heritage attributes identified in a designation by-law and heritage conservation agreement or easement. Specifically, Eligible Work is defined as the actions and materials required to repair, restore, preserve, rehabilitate and stabilize identified heritage attributes. Conversely, work is usually determined as ineligible if it is routine maintenance/repair work that is required or necessary for the property regardless of its heritage status. Other ineligible works are those that will take away from the heritage nature or result in deterioration of the property. If you have questions about whether your proposed scope of work would qualify as “Eligible Work,” please contact Heritage Planning staff.
How do I apply for the Heritage Property Tax Reduction Program?
The tax reduction of 30% can be claimed by an owner once every three years. Owners wishing to receive the rebate must follow the two-step process outlined below:
Step One - Tax Year Proposal
Prior to August 31 of the year for which relief is being sought, the owner must submit a complete project proposal to the City that includes the following:
Project Proposal form
Copy of the conservation agreement or easement (if any)
Photographs of the property in its current state
Detailed specifications of all proposed eligible work
Complete architectural plans and elevations for any work involving development, interior or exterior structural alterations affecting the structure or gross floor area of the property (if relevant)
At least two detailed cost estimates for all eligible work by each specialized trade and/or type of work
The City’s Heritage Planner will review the project proposal to ensure the proposed work meets the eligibility requirements of the program. If approved, the City Heritage Planner will issue a statement of eligible work (SEW). Work must be completed as outlined in the SEW and in keeping with all other program requirements.
Step Two - Rebate Year Application
Before February 28/29 of the year following the Step 1 application (when work has been conducted and completed), the owner must submit the Step 2 Heritage Property Tax Reduction Application. A complete application must include the following:
A completed Heritage Property Tax Rebate Application Form
Photographs of the property showing the eligible work
A certificate of insurance showing the property is insured
Invoices from contractors, marked as paid, with a breakdown of the costs by item of the SEW
Maintenance and Preservation Agreement (if there is no easement already on the property)
The City’s Heritage Planner will review the application and inspect the work, then handover the review to City’s Finance Department for review of expenses. Once approved, the Finance Department will mail out a letter in the early summer months to confirm that a tax credit has been applied to your property tax account.
What is a Maintenance and Preservation Agreement and what is a Heritage Easement?
A Maintenance and Preservation Agreement is a contract between the property owner and the City (not registered on title) to ensure the heritage conservation investments are made to the property and that the preservation and maintenance of the property is respected. Such an agreement with the local municipality or a heritage easement is required under the Municipal Act for the Heritage Tax Reduction program. A heritage easement is a voluntary legal agreement between the owner and the City. An easement gives a public body (the City of Windsor) a legal interest in the property and is registered on title. The agreement sets mutually accepted conditions that ensure the conservation of the property in perpetuity while retaining possession and use of the property.
Is there a cost for me to apply for the program?
There is no cost to apply for the program.
How is the tax reduction calculated?
The tax reduction applies to the legal description of the property (which would include the eligible heritage structure and the lands associated with it) calculated against the entire property’s tax bill. The rebate amount is calculated as a percentage of the total taxes for the municipal and school purposes levied on the property. The province shares in the cost of the program by covering the school board portion of the rebate, and the municipality covers their own portion.
If my Step 1 and Step 2 applications are accepted and approved, when will I receive the tax reductions?
After the final Step 2 application has been approved, you should expect to see the tax reductions reflected in the second half of the year’s tax bills.
Overwhelmed, confused, or still have questions?
The City of Windsor wants to help you invest in the future of your City. If you have questions about the program, or if you are looking for a contractor/supplier experienced in heritage buildings, please feel free to contact Heritage Planning staff for guidance.
Planning & Building Services Department
2nd Floor, 350 City Hall Square West
Windsor, Ontario, Canada N9A 6S1
Phone: (519) 255-6543 ext. 6179
Fax: (519) 255-6544