Vancouver has the highest property taxes in Canada. The B.C. property-tax surcharge would further increase this burden and substantially encroach onto the municipal tax base. This regressive provincial tax grab will make life less affordable for everyone, both owners and renters. To understand this requires looking past ideological bias and considering the facts.
In the 1990s, a luxury tax was proposed on properties above $500,000. If that hadn’t been withdrawn by then-Premier Mike Harcourt, it would have eventually applied to all properties across the city and region, including most condos.
The proposed surtax is strategically tied to the $3-million mark to minimize initial impact of this precedent that, if implemented, will eventually be broadly expanded to capture all properties just like the 1990s’ version would have.
Everyone should be concerned.
The calculation of property taxes is very specific to each municipality. Property taxes are based on a mill rate. This is calculated by taking the total municipal budget and dividing it by the total assessed value of all properties in the class (such as residential).
With Vancouver’s high property values multiplied by the mill rate, the graph by Simon Fraser University Prof. Andrey Pavlov accurately shows that Vancouver has the highest property taxes in Canada.
In contrast, it’s misleading to compare mill rates and project them to unrelated values in other cities like what the University of B.C’s Tom Davidoff promotes, or the chart currently on MLA David Eby’s website.
A $2-million property in most other cities across Canada could be a new mansion on a large lot, whereas in Vancouver that could be an old character house on a standard lot on the east side. And most cities have few if any detached houses worth over $3 million, whereas Vancouver has most small old bungalows on standard lots on the west side in that range.