June 25 - Toronto City Council facing land transfer tax revolt

July 10, 2007


June 25, 2007 - If the flood of e-mails to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) is any indication, then Mayor David Miller and Toronto City Council may be facing a tax revolt, not to mention trouble at re-election time, Bob Finnigan, President of BILD said today.

Finnigan noted that his editorial column in the week-end newspaper sparked a flood of e-mails in vehement opposition to the land transfer tax. Although the editorial took issue with the impact of the tax on housing affordability and its potential contribution to urban sprawl, the majority of the respondents are expressing their anger with the City's lack of fiscal control.

One homeowner likened the tax to a fine for buying in Toronto while several decried the City's inability to live within its means. A few respondents even pined for the return of Mel Lastman.

"We heard from first-time buyers to retirees and everyone in between, and they are all incensed.  Reading the comments, I was reminded of the 1976 movie Network - these individuals are mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore," said Finnigan.

For his own part, Finnigan reiterated his opposition to the tax based on its impact on housing affordability and its contribution to urban sprawl. "The land transfer tax proponents give short shrift to housing affordability, choosing to believe that the tax will be magically absorbed. The inconvenient truth of the matter is that this tax is paid by homebuyers as an adjustment on closing so the only one's taking the hit will be the buyers themselves," said Finnigan.

"The sad irony is that the City of Toronto land transfer tax runs completely contrary to the Province's efforts to curb urban sprawl. People will drive across town to save a few cents on gas, so if anyone thinks they won't cross a regional border to save more than $4,000 (incremental land transfer tax on an average MLS), they are dreaming in technicolour," Finnigan concluded.

With more than 1,500 members, BILD, formed through the merger of the Greater Toronto Home Builders' Association and Urban Development Institute/Ontario is the voice of the residential land development, home building and professional renovation industry in the Greater Toronto Area. We are proudly affiliated with the Ontario and Canadian Home Builders' Associations.

"It is time for the Mayor and the City to start managing the city more effectively rather than running to the residents and businesses for more and more revenue."

"Why has it become so much more expensive to run the city that we need new revenue sources? Shouldn't that question be answered first? What extra is the city doing for us that requires more tax? If there is anything new that the city is doing for us, did we ask for it, and is it something that's actually useful or an improvement to our daily lives?"

"I am very concerned by the decision to implement this or any other city imposed tax, especially by a group that continually demonstrates their inability to control their finances. Internal control has never been a strong point and is in my opinion the single biggest problem we have, not lack of money but lack of effort trying to live within our means."

"The proposed tax is a blatant tax grab and a really stupid idea.  In Canada it seems it is too easy to do.....NOTHING!  We are certainly over taxed in this country and it is time we all stood up and were counted. This tax will impose hardship on first time homebuyers, seniors and young families trying to establish themselves. The next time I can use the ballot box to protest this tax will be this fall ... I will have to vote against Dalton's liberals ... giving Miller and his ilk new taxation powers is the equivalent of giving an alcoholic the key to a liquor cabinet." 

"Why do the taxpayers get nailed with the government's inefficiency??? If this proposed tax goes through, we will move outside the city boundaries to avoid the tax. We will then pay our taxes to another city. At least they'll be fair. We expect to pay home taxes each year as homeowners BUT not a "fine" for buying a home in Toronto."

"Thanks for the great article on the proposed new land transfer tax.  The ineptness of the leadership at City Hall is mind-boggling.   It's really frustrating for those of us who didn't vote for Miller.  I really miss Mel!!"

"I am in the market for a new house in Toronto, and I am thoroughly annoyed about the amount of money I'll have to pay to the existing provincial land transfer tax - a pure cash grab that does absolutely nothing to benefit my move. And now, at the prospect of having to pay a second, pointless, land transfer tax, I am absolutely appalled. How can anyone, even a politician, think that this is acceptable?"
"Let's not forget that not only Miller is to blame for this potential tax. McGuinty made it possible for Miller to consider it, after years of being nagged by Miller for more money that McGuinty always claimed was never there and that he's now spending on votes."

Cynthia Malagerio                                                                      Stephen Dupuis
Manager of Communications                                                     Chief Executive Officer
416-391-3450 or 416-951-4081                                               416-391-3453 or 416-948-8654   
communications@bildgta.ca                                                      sdupuis@bildgta.ca