Boost or bust?
This year’s federal election campaign is just a few days old and already the Conservative government has announced a new home renovation tax credit. Details are sketchy and whether plumbing and HVAC will be part of the program isn’t yet known. But given the government’s view that homeowners best know what their home requires, it’s likely that it will.
Most people in this industry have mixed feelings about these initiatives. While they provide a sales boost when they are available, they also destabilize the market because homeowners tend to put off purchases if they believe there is a rebate or tax credit in the works.
And few in this industry will forget when the federal government cancelled its Eco Energy rebate program on Jan. 29, 2012, ahead of schedule and with less than 24 hours notice. That caused major turmoil.
On the other hand, there’s no question that these programs can provide a boost. The homeowner is more likely to buy the best equipment in a “good, better, best” selling strategy if the government throws a little money into the pot.
The Harper government’s latest initiative addresses one of the industry’s major complaints by being a permanent program. The industry has long said that for rebates or tax credits to work they must be long-term.
The other factor is that the program is not tied to energy efficiency – at least not at this point. Unless the government adds conditions to prevent it, the homeowner should be eligible for the tax credit for any type of plumbing or HVAC renovation applied to costs from $1,000 up to $5,000. (We assume they can spend more than $5,000, but the excess would not be eligible for the credit.)
Unfortunately, for HVAC contractors hoping for a boost after a dismal air conditioning season in much of the country, this won’t provide it. If the Conservatives do win this election, and that’s far from a certainty at this point, they are not planning to introduce the program until midway through their mandate.
It will be interesting to see how the other political parties respond to the Conservative initiative. I suspect that, regardless of which party wins the election, the industry will benefit from some sort of rebate or tax credit on mechanical equipment. It may be wishful thinking, but let’s hope all the parties understand the need for long-term stable funding.