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Friday, 28 September 2012 16:48

CFIB: Swift Current improves in property tax fairness

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With the October 24th municipal elections fast approaching, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its annual comparison of property tax gaps between Saskatchewan’s residential and commercial property owners. CFIB’s report reveals very little progress has been made in narrowing the municipal property tax gaps from 2010 levels. 

 

On average, in 2011 small business owners paid 2.18 times the municipal property taxes of residential property owners.

CFIB’s research report, Wanted: Property Tax Fairness in Saskatchewan, is the fifth in a series of CFIB reports which examine municipal and total property tax gaps for 63 municipalities.  The gap measures the difference in municipal and total tax rates applied to commercial and residential properties.

“Unfortunately, for small business owners the vast majority of Saskatchewan municipalities saw their municipal tax gaps either worsen or stay the same in 2011,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s Vice-President, Prairie and Agri-business. “It is troubling that only 26 of the 63 municipalities modestly improved their municipal tax gap in 2011. Small business owners continue to get the short end of the property tax stick.”

In fact, Saskatchewan commercial property owners paid $1.18 to $4.67 for every dollar in municipal property taxes paid by homeowners.  In Saskatchewan’s 14 cities, commercial property owners paid between $1.57 and $3.79 for every dollar in municipal property taxes paid by residential property owners, with an average of 2.56.

Yorkton has highest municipal property tax gap among Cities - 2nd highest in province; Martensville the lowest among Cities

The Bad among Cities: 

  • Yorkton has the most unfair tax system with a municipal property tax gap of 3.79
  • Melville has the highest commercial property tax bill of $8,107 per $200,000 of assessed value
  • North Battleford saw the largest increase in its property tax gap from 2.99 to 3.32.

The Good among Cities:

  • Martensville boasts the lowest municipal property tax gap of 1.57; Saskatoon 2nd best at 1.78
  • Martensville has the lowest commercial municipal property tax bill of $2,642 – 2nd year in a row
  • Swift Current has the most improved property tax gap, reducing its gap from 4.04 to 2.60, but still worse than average

“If you factor in the provincial education property taxes, commercial property owners in Saskatchewan cities are still paying on average 2.26 times the property taxes of a residential property owner,” noted Braun-Pollon. “In addition to paying more, business owners typically receive fewer services, as they pay for things like garbage disposal on their own. This means small business owners are paying more than their fair share.”

“In the coming weeks, we will hear a lot of commitments from municipal candidates about infrastructure, crime and housing. But we also need to hear their vision to address small business concerns in their community,” added Braun-Pollon. “With Cities receiving a 134% increase in municipal revenue sharing since 2007, we certainly don’t want to hear about property tax hikes or a ‘penny’ tax.”

CFIB sent its Candidates’ Views on Small Business Issues Survey to city candidates and launched a comprehensive election website to raise the profile of small business issues and concerns.

“We hope candidates listen to our job creators and small business issues get the attention they deserve during this municipal election,” concluded Braun-Pollon.

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