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Metro communities call for property tax relief

Metro Vancouver property owners paying three times as much school tax as the rest of B.C. due to rising assessments
Metro Vancouver residents are paying more and more property tax and receiving a smaller share of homeowner grants.

Metro Vancouver directors are appealing to the parties in May 9 provincial election to consider changes to the region’s “antiquated” property tax system that rises with soaring property values.

School taxes and property transfer tax have increased disproportionately for Metro Vancouver property owners in recent years, and tax breaks such as the homeowner grant haven’t kept up, says a consultant’s report released by Metro Vancouver Tuesday.

“Metro Vancouver residents are facing an inequitable tax burden because of an antiquated taxation system based on property assessed values,” Metro Vancouver board chair Greg Moore said. “It’s patently unfair for more than half of B.C.’s population to be financially penalized when many residents are struggling to afford to remain in their homes.”

The threshold to qualify for a homeowner grant was increased nine per cent, from $1.1 million to $1.2 million between January 2014 and December 2016. The report by Cascadia Partners calculates that during that time, property values rose by 48 per cent, and the rising values pushed more properties beyond eligibility for the grant.

Metro Vancouver is calling for the homeowner grant threshold within Metro Vancouver to match the provincial average for eligibility, with 91 per cent of properties qualifying.

The report says school property tax assessed in Metro Vancouver has grown to three times as much revenue as the remainder of B.C.

Property transfer tax revenue is estimated to have doubled in two years to $2.2 billion a year, with Metro Vancouver buyers paying $900 million of that.

The provincial government should direct revenue from the surging property transfer tax revenue to address the housing affordability and homelessness situation in the region, said Metro Vancouver vice-chair Raymond Louie.