EDITORIAL: A radical tax proposal

TransLink needs money, so let's double the current residential property tax rate... with a caveat.

High home costs are increasingly pricing people out of the real estate market and raising questions about Metro Vancouver’s long-term affordability and sustainability.

The market’s rise has been partly driven by an influx of foreign investment, including a steady parade of buyers from China.

Meanwhile, the struggle continues to find new funding for TransLink for much-needed transit expansion without inflicting too much pain on already heavily taxed residents and motorists.

Gas taxes, vehicle levies and tolls are all hugely unpopular, raising the spectre that political paralysis may freeze any improvements, including the Evergreen Line.

So here’s one provocative proposal that might help put a dent in both problems: Double TransLink’s current residential property tax rates.

But at the same time, create a homeowner grant that rebates 50 per cent of the TransLink tax.

Like the homeowner grant on municipal property tax, the TransLink version would exclude second vacation homes and disqualify owners who aren’t Canadian citizens or landed immigrants.

There’ would be no change in the $230 a year in property tax the average resident homeowner now pays TransLink for a typical $650,000 house in Metro Vancouver.

Most working folks would notice no difference.

But the transportation authority would suck twice as much cash from foreign buyers, other non-resident owners and speculators.

A $4-million luxury condo owned by a Hollywood starlet, Shanghai business magnate or Alberta oil tycoon – who jets in once or twice a year – might bring $2,800 to TransLink each year instead of the current $1,400.

And why shouldn’t they pay more?

They come to enjoy Vancouver’s legendary livability yet make no permanent commitment to the region and use scarce housing inefficiently.

For that privilege of using our city like a fly-in resort, they can cough up some extra coin to help build new rapid transit lines across the region and contribute to the long-term viability of the region and their investment.

Others who would pay more are qualifying residents with homes worth more than whatever cap is set for the benefit. (The civic grant is phased out for homes worth more than $1.3 million).

TransLink currently collects nearly $300 million a year in property tax. Not all of that is residential and only a small fraction comes from non-qualifying homeowners.

But doubling what they pay might still generate an extra $20 or $30 million a year – a significant chunk towards TransLink’s $70-million-a-year upgrade plan, perhaps avoiding the use of one of the less palatable revenue sources.

And if a selective TransLink tax hike on non-residents or other owners of ritzy homes takes a bit of the juice out of our overheated real estate market, so much the better.

– Black Press

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Claiming she has COVID-19, stranger coughs in Cloverdale woman’s face

Clayton Heights woman will now self-isolate for the next two weeks

Police watchdog finds cops blameless for deaths in 2019 Surrey hostage-taking

Woman was killed as ERT officers fired on man holding a knife to her throat and ‘what appeared to be’ a gun in his hand

No, Delta police are not pulling over cars to check for social distancing

DPD dispelling rumour cops pulling over vehicles with two or more people, checking IDs, issuing fines

White Rock/South Surrey experts launch website of mental-health resources

Together White Rock/South Surrey aims to help ease the search for supports

B.C. couple celebrates 61st anniversary through seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

VIDEO: Dog missing in Lower Mainland since winter sees his family again for the first time

Aldergrove helped find Buster, says dad, who has now witnessed ‘the power of social media’

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Most Read