Posts Tagged: property taxes

Mar 11

The commercial property tax question

Writing for OpenFile, Tim Alamenciak looks at the issue of empty storefronts in the city:

Back on Queen Street East, some storefronts have been empty for years, others mere months. When Philip Traikos became the real estate agent for the whole south side stretch of stores from Woodbine Avenue to Northern Dancer Boulevard in 2008, all of them were empty except for the bank branches of TD and BMO. Since then, Living Lighting (a lighting store) and SupperWorks (a food preparation service) have moved in, among others. As to why so many spaces are still vacant, Traikos says, “that’s the million dollar question”

via Toronto’s empty storefronts a tough sell | OpenFile.

Read the comment thread as well, where there’s a good discussion of Toronto’s commercial property tax rates, including a series of posts from a very singularly-minded crusader. I didn’t know, for example, that vacant storefronts pay only half the property tax.

The city has continued the previous administration’s program to rebalance commercial tax rates with residential rates, but this is probably something that deserves more attention.

Feb 11

2011 budget rich with symbolism, but not much else

The Globe & Mail’s Anna Mehler Paperny:

“The ink’s not even dry on the 2011 budget. I want people to enjoy the zero-per-cent tax increase,” he said, adding only that “we have to go really hard in 2012” to close a budgetary shortfall pegged at $774-million.

The budget braved a raft of attempts to save everything from additional staff for the city ombudsman to $75,000 cut from the tenant defence fund, the soon-to-be-closed Urban Affairs library and cut bus routes.

via Ford says budget has kept his promises – The Globe and Mail.

Over the past two days, councillors approved the 2011 operating and capital budgets with no major amendments. So bus routes are cut. The Urban Affairs Library will close. Conservation programs like rebates for low-flow toilets are gone.

Gord Perks’ motion on the first day, when councillors were debating 2011 tax rates, tells the whole story: this was, essentially, the exact same budget as last year except council used a combination of service cuts and one-time revenues to avoid an inflationary increase to residential property taxes. (Also, so they could cut the vehicle registration tax.)

A small increase (far below inflation) to the amount of revenue brought in by property taxes could have retained all services.

It should be noted that a ‘property tax freeze’ is a totally misleading phrase. If the federal or provincial governments were to freeze income taxes, you’d assume that would mean they’d lock in the percentages in the various tax brackets. Even with frozen income and sales taxes, governments would still realize increased revenues as wages and prices rise with inflation.

Property taxes work in an entirely different way. (For more on this, see this great Dylan Reid piece at Spacing.) By freezing property taxes, the city has forced itself to make do with the exact same pool of tax revenue as they did last year. Despite, you know, everything costing more than it did last year due to inflation.

They crippled themselves.

Jan 11

Meanwhile, in the thrilling world of commercial property tax rates…

A City of Toronto press release today answers a question I’ve been curious about since Ford took office. The plan to rebalance commercial property tax rates started under David Miller will continue:

The ‘Enhancing Toronto’s Business Climate’ initiative will reduce the tax ratios for the multi-residential class and the business classes to 2.5-times the residential tax rate by 2020 (a 15 year plan), and provides for an accelerated reduction in tax rates for small businesses, with a target of 2.5-times the residential rate by 2015 (a 10 year plan, instead of the 15 years for the rest of commercial).

via Budget Committee tables continuing tax relief programs in Toronto.

This is good news. While Toronto’s residential property taxes are very low, its commercial taxes are unduly high. This encourages businesses to set up in the 905 which — nothing against the 905 — isn’t really a desirable outcome, particularly as it relates to a growing class of young people who live downtown and commute outwards to the suburbs for work.