Realtors to Toronto mayor: Ease up on land transfer taxes

If you purchased a home in Toronto in the past six years you were hit not once, but twice when it came to land transfer taxes.

Toronto’s realtors want the city’s next mayor to do something about that, and they’re applying the pressure in the final stretch of the mayoral race.

Now the rest of the country sometimes struggles to find much sympathy for the plight of Torontonians, but it is the only city where homeowners are hit twice when purchasing a home.

There’s the provincial land transfer tax, and then the Toronto tax (introduced in 2008) on top of it.

The Toronto land transfer tax put roughly $350 million into city coffers last year, but the Toronto Real Estate Board argues the costs are much higher.

Citing research done by Altus Group on behalf of the Ontario Real Estate Association, Toronto’s realtors say that between 2008 and 2013 the municipal land transfer tax is responsible for:

- A loss of $2.3 billion in economic activity

- A $1.2-billion reduction in GDP

- Almost 15,000 full-time jobs lost

- $772 million in lost wages and salaries

- And a little more than 38,000 resale home transactions that never happened because of the tax.

The city’s real estate board says the tax costs a homebuyer some $8,000 on the average Toronto home, with the province taking a similar amount. It also applies to commercial properties.

Board president Paul Etherington call is an “important issue for many Torontonians, and we expect it will influence their voting decisions.”

So where do the three leading candidates stand?

Doug Ford is picking up where his brother, Mayor Rob Ford, left off. Rob Ford vowed to scrap Toronto’s land transfer tax, but it didn’t make any real progress on the issue during his time in office. City Council wasn’t onside on this one.

Doug Ford says he’ll bring in an immediate 15% reduction to the tax, with the intention of phasing it out.

Olivia Chow wants to raise the tax on transactions involving the city’s most expensive properties – think $2 million and above.

Perceived frontrunner John Tory hasn’t drawn a line in the sand on the land transfer tax, but is vowing to keep property taxes at our below inflation.

Ford’s opponents are questioning how the city will make up that 15% in the budget. It comes out to about $52 million less for the city’s coffers, and that would just be the first round.

What does the Toronto Real Estate Board think of the candidates’ positions?

It supports Ford’s stance, hopes Tory will “articulate” a plan for relief of the Toronto land transfer tax, and does not support Chow’s proposal (to say the least.
Apparently Ms. Chow was booed, loudly, when the three argued the issue in front of realtors this week).

For the record, I don’t live in Toronto anymore and have never paid the tax (it didn’t exist when I bought my Toronto condo in 2002). While I don’t have skin in this particular game, I’ll be fascinated to see if Torontonians make it a ballot box issue.

 

Article source: http://www.bnn.ca/Blogs/2014/10/22/Realtors-to-Toronto-mayor-Ease-up-on-land-transfer-taxes.aspx

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Doug Ford promises to cut the land transfer tax

“We will make sure that we eliminate, right off the hop, 15 per cent of the land transfer tax,” Ford said. “A lot of my friends here want to tax, tax, tax, spend, spend, spend. I don’t believe in taxing and spending. I believe in saving and putting money back into the peoples’ pocket of this great city.”

Article source: http://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/toronto2014election/2014/10/21/doug_ford_promises_to_cut_the_land_transfer_tax.html

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Toronto mayoral debate hosted by the Toronto Real Estate Board

On mobile? Click here to follow along.

Article source: http://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/toronto2014election/2014/10/21/toronto_mayoral_debate_hosted_by_the_toronto_real_estate_board.html

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3 top mayoral candidates clash over transit, land transfer tax

There’s not much time left for Toronto’s mayoral candidates to make their case to voters, but they are still making time to mix it up with one another during debates.

Two mayoral debates are scheduled Tuesday — a Toronto Real Estate Board-hosted debate that occurred the morning, while another debate is being held at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus on Tuesday evening.

Early on at the TREB debate, the candidates clashed over a question about whether or not they would get rid of the city’s Municipal Land Transfer Tax (MLTT).

In an answer that elicited some boos, Chow said the city currently does not have enough revenue to abandon the tax, which poured $345 million into city coffers last year.

“We do not have the funding revenue that we need,” said Chow.

Ford said he would work to eliminate the tax, which is paid by anyone who buys a home or business in Toronto. The buyer of a house with a sale price of $500,000 would pay just over $5,700 in MLTT.

“We believe in putting the money back in the people’s pocket,” said Ford. “Politicians feel they are entitled to the land transfer tax.”

Tory pointed out that Rob Ford — Doug Ford’s brother — was unable to get rid of the tax during his four-year term as mayor. Doug Ford entered the mayor’s race last month after Rob Ford was diagnosed with cancer and had to abandon his re-election campaign.

“You had a chance to do this,” said Tory to Doug Ford. “You were told you couldn’t and you didn’t.”

Tory also said Ford hasn’t been clear about how he would make up the lost revenue if the MLTT is axed.

On a question about transit, the candidates didn’t stray far from what they’ve been saying for the past few weeks.

Chow repeated her support for surface rail lines in Sheppard, Finch and in Scarborough, where the council voted to build a subway.

Both Chow and Ford attacked Tory’s SmartTrack plan, which would build surface rail lines, primarily along existing GO Transit rail corridors.

“There’s holes all over it,” said Ford of SmartTrack. “It doesn’t connect to the existing line. It doesn’t serve 90 per cent of the population. I will not allow you to destroy this city on transit.”

Chow questioned Tory about how much tunnelling SmartTrack would require; he countered by asking her how much tunnelling the downtown relief line would require.

The debate featured some good exchanges between the candidates, who are making a last-ditch bid to win votes ahead of Monday’s vote. Among the best lines:

  • Tory to Ford about his penchant for clashing with other members of council. Ford had touted himself as a “straight shooter.” Tory’s response?  “A lot of that straight shooting has been gunfire happening at city council.”
  • In a clash between Ford and Tory on the city’s economic growth in recent years, Ford said: “You’re a slick talker, I’m a doer.”

  • Chow targeted Tory’s past roles as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party: “Our city is a progressive city, John Tory is a conservative.”

The Oct. 27 election is now just six days away.

Article source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/3-top-mayoral-candidates-clash-over-transit-land-transfer-tax-1.2807148

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