If the poll hadn’t been done by the always excellent Mario Canseco, I wouldn’t have believed it — although that’s not to say, given its results, I’m not shocked and pretty disheartened with British Columbians.
Sixty-seven per cent of you believe, according to the new Research Co. poll, that adding a bogus and mean-spirited “school tax” on homes worth more than $3 million is a “good” or “very good” idea?
And 62 per cent support an annual two-per-cent “speculation tax” on secondary properties, 69 per cent back increasing the property transfer tax to five per cent on homes over $3 million, while 80 per are enthused by the NDP’s higher 20-per-cent foreign buyers tax?
Wow! When did everyone get so keen on even higher taxes?
While I understand that many are upset about high housing costs, I’m surprised that so many folks think that placing higher taxes on real estate is the answer since, for the most part, they only inflate housing costs.
Consider the “school tax” — which is actually a tax on unrealized paper wealth unconnected to people’s ability to pay. Has it not occurred to others that taxing higher-priced home doesn’t actually create any affordable housing?
All the eat-the-rich socialists in the NDP are clearly gleeful at engaging in class warfare, with their banal rhetoric about asking people in more expensive homes “to pay a little bit more.” That ignores, of course, that they already do.
A study released in April by Andrey Pavlov, a Simon Fraser University business professor who specializes in real estate finance, found that owners of detached homes in Vancouver pay the highest average property taxes of large Canadian cities.
Using the MLS benchmark price for houses, Pavlov found that Vancouver house owners pay $8,391 in property taxes and utilities, compared to $6,351 for those in the City of Toronto, $4,416 in Ottawa on down to $2,633 in Saskatoon.
Property taxes are even higher on Vancouver’s West Side — on average $10,808 — where many of the people affected by the new wealth tax reside.
My family owns a house in Kits, although we’re not affected by the taxes as it’s not valuable enough — at least until it rises in value or the NDP lowers the threshold for the tax, as one academic is already advocating. But I understand the large negative reaction by some of my neighbours.
One of the juicy lies told by the NDP and their academic-activist-party hack pals promoting the tax from their comfy, taxpayer-endowed professorships at UBC and SFU is the notion that homes shouldn’t be investments (try and find a financial advisor who thinks that) or that people who have seen gains are undeserving.
For many homeowners on the West Side (and the rest of the city) who work for a living, our homes are often our only investment, something to rely on to fund our retirements. The high mortgage payments rule out other kinds of investments.
With these taxes, the NDP is targeting one class of investment and hurting people financially. How is it fair for the government to go after one asset class? There is as much logic in placing an annual tax on people’s stock portfolios or savings accounts, as the same arguments can be made that no one “works for” or “deserves” interest from savings or the dividends or price increase in a stock. It’s really not fair to change the rules after the fact.
There is no natural link between people’s equity in private homes and the government’s need to fund affordable housing. The NDP is making an artificial, cynical and political connection between the two and acting as a bully in targeting a minority they know a lot of the public won’t feel much sympathy for.
I’m also irritated that the NDP has demonstrated its usual incompetence and lack of creativity in dealing with the housing crisis. They seem to have no other answer to problems than to increase existing taxes or create new ones.
As tax expert Paul Sullivan pointed out in a report to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade Housing Forum last month, taxes and fees now make up 26 per cent of the cost of a “typical new Vancouver apartment” — a stunning $220,256 of the cost of a $840,000 apartment. How about addressing that?
If someone can’t see how this level of government taxation is making housing more, not less, expensive, I don’t think I can help them.
Gordon Clark is a columnist and editorial pages editor for The Province.