We had guests from the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) at our office today, telling us about a campaign they’ve launched to support Mayor Ford’s efforts to repeal Toronto’s land transfer tax. They claim that the addition of the land transfer tax has hurt the 416: that homes sales in Toronto woud be 16% higher if we didn’t have it and that people are being pushed to the 905 because of the extra tax. While I applaud TREB for starting a grassroots lobbying campaign (it’s called Push for Action), to be honest, I just don’t agree with it. Here’s why:
1- Nobody likes taxes. I hate paying them too. I hate paying income tax, the HST and the myriad of other taxes Canadians pay to help fund schools, roads and our medical system. I own three properties, so I pay three property taxes every year and yes, I paid Toronto and Ontario land transfer tax on all three purchases. But just because we don’t like the taste of the medicine, it doesn’t mean it isn’t good for us in the long-term.
2- I’m a Toronto resident first, and a Toronto real estate agent second. Sure, as a realtor, I’d love for it to be suddenly cheaper for people to move. I’d sell more houses and that would certainly help my pocketbook. But if we take out $300,000,000 from our city’s budgets (yes, that is the actual amount of money our city makes on the land transfer tax in a year), I’d hate to see what we’d have to give up in exchange: Libraries? Arts and culture funding? Summer festivals? Kids school breakfasts? Snow removal in the winter?
Living in the 416 is a lifestyle choice. As a Toronto real estate agent, I sell lifestyles. All of the things that make the 416 a spectacular place to live also cost money. If repealing the land transfer tax makes Toronto a less attractive place to live in the end, we all lose.
I’d love to hear if you think we should repeal Toronto’s land transfer tax in the comments below…