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Toronto Property Taxes Will Always "Rise"
16/12/2003

The language of what represents a "tax increase" for municipal governments and what represents a "tax increase" for federal or provincial governments is entirely different.

In Ontario, muncipal property taxes are based on the current assessment of property value. The update for 2004 is in, and the average increase in Toronto values is 12%.

If Toronto managed its accounting the way that the provincial or federal governments do, the City would be expecting 12% more income as the "status quo" option for 2004. After all, when average incomes rise, income tax rates aren't automatically adjusted to account for that, and when they are, politicians take credit for a "tax cut".

However, when working out what Toronto city taxes will be, the first step is to neutralize this increase in property value. The status quo is to adjust tax rates to account for this 12% increase, and then call any change afterwards either an increase or a decrease.

I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with this system -- just pointing out the implication that there are different meanings for common phrases. The result is that the City needs annual "tax increases" just to keep up with inflation, whereas the other levels of government can continually "cut taxes" and still see their revenues rise.

Of course, after getting hit with the forced megacity restructuring, provincial downloading and current value assessment shifts, people in Toronto are naturally on edge about property taxes. (And things like this don't help.)

UPDATE Dec 17: Changed title from "Toronto Property Taxes to Rise"


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