Proposed new B.C. property tax school surcharge: WPGRA letter to premier points out problems, asks for changes

pexels-photo-209224.jpegCityHallWatch has obtained a copy of a letter from the West Point Grey Residents Association to BC Premier John Horgan and their MLA, Attorney General David Eby (download PDF version). Many of the points have immediate and long-term implications province-wide. See full text below. If you are concerned about this topic, you are encouraged to contact your MLA. (Key e-mail contacts – ; ; ; ; ; )

Related media:

“NDP demonstrates irresponsibility and incompetence with new taxes”:

“B.C. Undermines Municipal Tax Base and Affordability”: opinion/op-ed/elizabeth- murphy-b-c-undermines- municipal-tax-base-and- affordability


March 27, 2018

BC Premier John Horgan, Victoria, BC and Honorable David Eby, MLA, Vancouver-Point Grey

Dear Premier Horgan and Mr. Eby,

Re: Proposed BC Property Tax School Surcharge

While we encourage the province to provide increased funding to the public school system, we are strongly opposed to the proposed property tax surcharge that is an encroachment on the municipal tax base and has serious consequences affecting both owners and renters.

The provincial increase in the school portion of the municipal property tax works against the province’s stated objective to make life more affordable for British Columbians, both for owners and renters. This proposal should be withdrawn and replaced with other funding sources that are under the provincial tax base or reconsidered entirely.

Our concerns are as follows:

  • The assessed value of a property has no relationship to an owner’s ability to pay or the equity they may have in the property since it may be highly mortgaged. A large surtax based on assessed value will put many owners in the position of being taxed out of their homes, forced to sell, to raise rents on secondary suites, or to go into debt because they legitimately do not have the income to cover this large increase. Most of the houses that would be affected are old and certainly not luxury. This tax will also put further pressure on demolition of the character houses that are more affordable than new and tend to have more secondary rental suites.

  • Taxes should be designed to be affordable and not designed so that most people will have to go into debt to pay them.
  • Deferral is incurring debt and it is not for everyone. Not everyone qualifies and taxes should not be so high that deferral is the rule rather than the exception.
  • The province should not be encroaching onto the municipal tax base such as property taxes or development fees that are needed to provide municipal services. The province should instead use its own much larger tax base of provincial income taxes, federal income tax transfers, property transfer taxes, gas taxes, carbon taxes, sales taxes, etc.
  • Schools are a provincial funding responsibility that comes from the provincial general revenue. The current school portion of the property taxes collected go into general revenue and cover about 35% of the school budget. The proposed surcharge would in many cases triple or more the provincial take of the property tax. This goes into general revenue where there is no guarantee that this will result in a corresponding increase to the school budget. Nor will the funds be applied to the jurisdiction where they have been collected.
  • The surcharge is not based on a mill rate and is instead a direct percentage take of assessed value. This is a very problematic precedent that opens the door to a significant broadening of provincial intrusion into property taxes.
  • Eventually this tax, if implemented, would likely be expanded to cover all properties either through inflation or broadening of parameters.

We are very concerned and continue to hear from members and the community about how problematic this proposal would be for them. The Vancouver-Point Grey riding would be substantially affected and it would undermine Mr. Eby’s seat and the government’s slim majority.

The property tax surcharge would make life much less affordable for both owners and renters. We request that this proposed surcharge be withdrawn.

Yours truly,

West Point Grey Residents Association Board of Directors

2 thoughts on “Proposed new B.C. property tax school surcharge: WPGRA letter to premier points out problems, asks for changes

  1. Well said, the points you made were spot on. The problem is this NDP government is a punitive government. They view our homes as ATM machines that they can plug into and sucked dry. You can’t imagine the efforts my father went through to keep this home through the 80s when interest rates were over 20%. He did that so that he could pass it on to me and I could pass it onto my daughter so she might be able to enjoy the fruits of all his effort. Sadly I can’t imagine being able to come up with $33,000 per year for taxes. That’s a 100% increase in one year. How is that even legally allowed, how was the government able to force somebody out of their home. A home that they lived in for over 50 years, it breaks my heart. It feels like we’re in Communist Russia. But there is zero empathy.

  2. Exactly, our home is a heritage home . If this extra tax is imposed , we will not be able to pay it . My husband is disabled ..

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