DURHAM REGION– The provincial government has quashed giving municipalities the chance to charge a land transfer tax, something politicians here weren’t too keen on to begin with.
Both Ajax Mayor Steve Parish and Pickering Councillor Bill McLean said they weren’t supporters of imposing the tax.
With the money Ajax receives from the slots and being a shareholder in Veridian, “I don’t see the need for us to outside of those funding sources,” Mayor Parish said before the Province announced the idea was being dropped.
The Town annually receives $2.6 million as a Veridian shareholder and about $6.9 million in slots revenue.
Toronto is the only municipality that can impose such a tax.
Municipal Affairs Minister Ted McMeekin said in the legislature Tuesday, “It is clear that there has been no call for a municipal land transfer tax.
“Other than in Toronto, where the power already exists, our government will not be extending municipal land transfer tax powers to other Ontario municipalities,” Mr. McMeekin added. Coun. Bill McLean, who is also a real estate agent, said Pickering councillors hadn’t discussed the matter.
“I don’t know how the other councillors feel. There’s a concern it’s another tax on people, a tax on top of a tax.”
The land transfer tax now imposed by the Province “is sufficient,” he added.
Giving municipalities the option to impose the tax would “hurt the real estate market. It would be a burden on the purchaser and it would drive up the price more than they already are. That’s not to say there can’t be some compromise in there,” Coun. McLean said.
In Toronto, one per cent is on top of what the Province charges, he said.
With the Toronto plan, a house selling for $500,000 would see $5,000 going to the Province and $5,000 to Pickering.
“I would certainly want to take a look. But my position is no to the Toronto model. Something could come forward that’s a little more palatable,” he said.
Ajax-Pickering MPP Joe Dickson said the request for municipalities to impose the tax came from municipalities.
“AMO (the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, a lobby group for municipal government) has been after it for five or six years now. It’s a no-win situation for the Province. If we start it, the money will go to the municipalities, but taxpayers will blame the Province,” he said.
“It all started seriously last year at AMO” when Municipal Affairs Minister Ted McMeekin was asked about it.
Municipalities were looking for another revenue tool, Mr. Dickson said.
“He said he’d look at it,” Mr. Dickson said. “They’ve been pushing it and pushing it. I’d prefer to see a municipality to be more frugal with their taxes.” On an average home in Durham priced at $420,000, the land transfer tax would double to $9,800, said Roger Bouma, the president-elect of Durham Region Association of Realtors.
“That’s money the buyer needs to come up with in addition to their down payment,” he said.