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Retailers expecting rush as reno tax credit expires

The deadline is looming for taking advantage of the Home Renovation Tax Credit, but building supply stores haven't notice a rush of last-minute purchases - at least not yet. Home Depot is expecting a spike in the last two weeks before Feb.
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The deadline is looming for taking advantage of the Home Renovation Tax Credit, but building supply stores haven't notice a rush of last-minute purchases - at least not yet.

Home Depot is expecting a spike in the last two weeks before Feb. 1 when the program comes to an end for the 2009 tax year and the big box store's hours will be extended during the last weekend of the month in answer.

"We're trying to make sure everybody has an opportunity to take advantage of it," Home Depot manager Jay Maybin said Tuesday.

The program, launched by the federal government in late January 2009 as a way to ease recession pains, offers a maximum credit of $1,350 on renovations between $1,000 and $10,000.

Rona manager Pat Millsap said there was a big rush towards the end of last year but it dropped off in November and has remained that way because homeowners are expecting the federal government will come out with a replacement program in its March 4 budget.

Rona matched the HRTC with a campaign of its own, and Millsap said something similar is works for later this year.

"Regardless of what the government does, Rona is going to have another program implemented next year," Millsap said. "We're probably not going to see it until late spring but we just had our annual general meeting and that was the word."

He's expecting a rush in the weeks leading up to the July 1 start of the harmonized sales tax in B.C.

The northern B.C. chapter of the Canadian Home Builders Association is asking the federal government to extend the HRTC to offset the expected effect of the HST on home renovations. It also wants the provincial government to consider reviving the LiveSmartBC program which was so successful it used up its $60-million allocation in 15 months, less than half the time anticipated.

Central Builders' Supply general manager Helge Ruchelski said the HRTC softened the recession's impact on sales in 2009 and supports extending the program.

"It's good for everybody," he said.

Northern Hardware owner Ted Moffatt noticed a jump in sales in some areas thanks to the HRTC particularly in the summer when homeowners decided to take "staycations" and fix up their houses rather than travel.

"It wasn't a make or break thing for us,, but we did notice an increase in things like bathroom vanities, and showers and sinks for people renovating their bathrooms," he said.

Moffatt wouldn't be surprised if another program is unveiled this spring if only to prevent growth of the underground economy.

mnielsen@pgcitizen.ca