Cuts to Land Transfer Tax Come Up Again at City Hall

Rob Ford has been making headlines for the past month. But even though the Mayor may be that in name only now, he’s still trying to make moves down at City Hall. This time, it’s namely through the promise he made during his entire election campaign – that he was going to cut the land transfer tax Torontonians are currently paying. This week, Frank Di Giorgio, the budget chief, said that he plans to make good on that promise, and will take the transfer tax to council next week.

The tax, under Di Giorgio’s proposal, would be cut by 5 per cent, an amount that would be less than $20 million in lost revenues for the city, and still just halfway to the 10 per cent Ford has been saying he wants to see all along.

“I don’t care if you’re a first-time home buyer or any home buyer, you shouldn’t have to pay on the first $200 thousand, even $300 thousand,” said Di Giorgio. “That’s what I’m proposing, in essence. The first-time home buyer would suffer, but many more people would benefit.”

First-time buyers would be hurt because they’re currently receiving a rebate on the first $400 thousand paid on the home, and some are even claiming that amount should be adjusted upwards as property prices in the GTA continue to climb.

But if Mr. Di Giorgio is taking it to council, he needs to be prepared for the stonewall faces that meet him there.

“It’s a hail mary pass, in my view,” said Councillor Michelle Berardinetti. “This is not going to serve the residents of Toronto.”

As it stands already, the issue has already caused a great deal of debate down at City Hall.

“I support the land transfer tax,” says Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly. “What are you going to have to cut in order to facilitate those lost revenues?”

But Doug Ford, brother Rob’s biggest supporter throughout the scandal, disagrees. He believes that while the tax will bring in $350 million to the city this year, when it was only budgeted for $335 million, there’s room to give some back to the taxpayers. And he believes that the way to do that is through a tax cut.

What do you think about the land transfer tax? Should it be kept or cut? And if it’s cut, what other programs should suffer in order to fill the void left by the land transfer tax?

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