Categorized | Canadian Politics

Council approves 10% cap on tax hike for small businesses

Posted on 07 February 2018 by admin

Increases in assessments have seen the taxes for some properties increase by more than 100 per cent over the previous year.

City council has agreed to cap this year’s property tax hikes at 10 per cent for small businesses, who were left reeling after last year’s unprecedented rise in assessment values.

Businesses on Yonge St. and elsewhere downtown have been criticizing Mayor John Tory and council after some stores were forced to shutter. Increases in provincial re-assessments during an ongoing condo boom have seen the taxes for some properties increase by more than 100 per cent over the previous year.

Following a recommendation from staff, council voted 38 to 1 on Wednesday to limit tax increases to 10 per cent this year for industrial, commercial and multi-residential properties while staff consult the public and work on a more permanent solution — which may require changes to provincial legislation.

Tory made that one of his key items of the meeting, saying council was left dealing with a poor provincial assessment policy.

“It just requires such fundamental reform,” Tory said. “What we’re doing today is not meant to be the answer.”

He called the cap a “fair” way to maintain a healthy business community pending more permanent changes.

Facing pressure from local businesses this summer, Tory wrote to Finance Minister Charles Sousa and requested a “fairer model” of calculating property taxes.

The current system looks at the potential market value of land according to its “highest and best use,” meaning small businesses in areas rapidly developing with high-rise condos can see skyrocketing assessments.

According to a staff report, 5,415 properties experienced a tax increase greater than 10 per cent in 2017, 424 properties saw increases of 50 per cent or more and118 properties saw increases of 100 per cent or more.

“We cannot kill the goose that lays the golden egg, which are the small businesses in this city that are creating the majority of jobs that are opportunities for people to have a place to be able to go and work,” said economic development committee chair Councillor Michael Thompson. “I think it’s important for us to demonstrate to the small businesses in this city that we want to help them.”

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who represents much of Yonge St. in the downtown core, said the issue of protecting business on character main streets was an important one.

“Yonge St. is a very heavily pedestrianized street and even then the property owners and the small business operators are finding it difficult to make ends meet,” Wong-Tam said, noting the problem is also happening elsewhere in areas seeing growth.

She said the province needs to create a tax classification for small businesses to help Yonge St. and other neighbourhoods.

Council continued to meet Wednesday evening. The meeting resumes Thursday.

Still on the agenda are items on providing relief to businesses on Toronto Island impacted by flooding in 2017, deciding the future use of Old City Hall, pushing the province to alter new legislative tools to build affordable housing and implementing a tax on hotels and short-term rentals like those offered through Airbnb.

 

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