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Sheila Shepherd

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Lorraine McDonald

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Power of Three

Realtors®: Slam Proposed “Punitive” Taxes in York Region

Realtors® and car dealers are teaming up to demand York Region put the brakes on its hopes of bringing in new taxes on vehicles and real estate.

In advance of the June 7 provincial election, the region renewed its demand that the provincial government grant it the power to introduce new taxes, including a vehicle registration tax and a land transfer tax.

On May 31 came a backlash from the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) and the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA®).

Making car owners pay an annual vehicle registration tax is “an arbitrary tax just for owning a car,” Frank Notte, director of government relations with the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, said.

More than 80 per cent of Ontario residents report a car as a necessity, he said.

“You already pay five separate taxes when you fill the tank. You already pay to get your licence and licence renewed every five years to the province. You already pay the province to license the car itself at $120 every year,” Notte said.

The region is short $220 million a year to pay for infrastructure needed for a growing population.

As a result, it wants taxing powers similar to Toronto.

Notte is skeptical about the region’s financial prowess.

“Is another tax really going to solve York Region’s budget problems? We don’t think so,” he said.

“I think it would be an easier sell if they weren’t in debt and that’s the problem. We don’t know if this tax is going to be dedicated to something. They should have come out before and said ‘We want this tax at this rate to go toward this.’ But all we know is that they want taxing powers and no numbers. It’s very concerning.”

Notte urged voters to make the potential new taxes a campaign issue during this fall’s municipal elections.

“Voters need to know how much they are going to pay based on who gets elected,” he said.

“We learned in the City of Toronto, it was one of the most unpopular taxes the city has ever implemented. It booted out the mayor of Toronto at the time, David Miller, and I think politicians should look at that very closely.”

A vehicle registration tax is “punitive” cost on motorists, Elliott Silverstein, manager of government relations with the Canadian Automobile Association South Central Ontario, said.

Meanwhile, real estate associations are upset with the prospect of the region bringing in a land transfer tax.

“York Region homebuyers are already charged a provincial land transfer tax so by adding a municipal tax, the region will double the tax burden on local families,” TREB president, Tim Syrianos, said in a statement.

“If local councillors get their way, homebuyers will be forced to pay $15,000 more in land transfer taxes on the average priced home in York Region.”

OREA® president David Reid said York isn’t the first community to demand new taxing powers.

“Each time, realtors have stood up for young families and opposed a tax. Homebuyers need relief, not new taxes,” he said

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