Tax bur­den un­fair to busi­nesses

Calgary Herald - - OPINION -

Re: ‘Re­mark­able leader’ lost as city man­ager re­signs, Jan. 9

Mayor Nen­shi said Jeff Field­ing had found ef­fi­cien­cies in the city’s bud­get suf­fi­cient to keep our taxes the low­est of any large city in Canada. This claim is both hol­low and mis­lead­ing.

The ag­gre­gate prop­erty tax rev­enue comes from two sources: non-res­i­den­tial and res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties. Mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ments choose the ra­tio by which the over­all prop­erty tax bur­den is split.

Our coun­cil cur­rently charges the non-res­i­den­tial sec­tor four times the prop­erty tax paid by the res­i­den­tial sec­tor. It’s trou­bling to note that, since 2014, that num­ber has climbed steadily from a rate of 2.75 times the res­i­den­tial tax to the cur­rent in­flated ra­tio.

What this means is Cal­gary’s res­i­dences pay less tax, not be­cause of ef­fi­cien­cies, but rather be­cause a dra­mat­i­cally higher rate of tax is col­lected from busi­ness. Crit­i­cisms about Cal­gary’s coun­cil be­ing un­friendly to busi­ness are true and clearly borne out by these facts.

Cal­gary may have among the low­est res­i­den­tial taxes of any large city, but the truth is that this has been ac­com­plished on the back of an al­ready weak busi­ness cli­mate. It’s no se­cret that the cur­rent prob­lems faced by busi­nesses be­gan in 2014, and this flawed prop­erty tax pol­icy only wors­ens the sit­u­a­tion.

There are two parts to re­solv­ing the prop­erty tax is­sue and they must be ex­e­cuted to­gether: sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce mu­nic­i­pal spend­ing and in­crease tax levies on res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties to strike a ra­tio­nal bal­ance. To date, our coun­cil has proven in­ca­pable of ac­com­plish­ing ei­ther.

Rob Mil­lar, Cal­gary

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