FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
25 February, 2013

Property tax reform advocates team up for change

HALIFAX, NS – The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Chambers of Commerce believe it is time for the Province of Nova Scotia to take a serious look at eliminating property taxes. They are calling on the province to undertake a study into the potential for a shift from municipal property taxes to municipal income taxes as the principal source of municipal revenue.

The three organizations have each released reports that reach similar conclusions: the property tax system is flawed, inefficient, unfair and not conducive to economic growth and competitiveness.

“Consumers pay the same for regulated commodities like electricity, gasoline and even municipal water but not for most municipal services. The 19th century system is not working for
businesses, homeowners or municipal government,” says NS Chambers of Commerce Executive Director, Wayne Fiander.

They do not agree on everything: the Chamber is prepared to consider the HST as an alternative to property taxes, the CCPA-NS would prefer a single, provincially set, municipal income tax ReMIT rate, and AIMS believes competitive rates and greater reliance on user fees offer best value for ratepayers. But they all agree on one thing, the province has to step up and take a serious look at alternatives to a broken property based system.    

“No one is happy with the property tax,” says Dr. Michael Bradfield, author of the CCPA Refunded Municipal Income Tax (ReMIT) concept. “It is expensive to administer and regressive — it puts a heavier burden on people with low incomes than on everyone else.”

Through the release of AIMS’ This Rose, By Any Name, Stinks by Juanita Spencer, the CCPA-NS’s  A Sustainable Vision for Our Community: Alternative Municipal Budget for the Halifax Regional Municipality and Time for Real Change by the NS Chambers of Commerce (with Collins Barrow Chartered Accountants) the organizations encourage the elimination of property taxation and a return to the historical Canadian model of municipal income taxation coupled with user fees or other consumption taxes, as and where appropriate.

“Better global examples of municipal finance models exist,” says AIMS President and CEO Charles Cirtwill. “Most of them involve the use of income taxes at the municipal level and, most important, there is no obvious impediment to applying those models in the Nova Scotia context.”

For the first time, these three diverse groups will join together in an attempt to bring awareness to the general public of the alternatives in use globally and their strengths and weaknesses versus a property based system. Cirtwill, Bradfield and Fiander will embark on a public speaking tour, beginning in Halifax on March 20, 2013.

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About AIMS: AIMS is an independent, non-partisan social and economic public policy think tank based in Halifax, NS.

About the CCPA-NS: The CCPA-NS is an independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social and economic justice, as well as environmental sustainability in the Atlantic region.

About the NS Chambers of Commerce: The Nova Scotia Chambers of Commerce is the chief advocacy group for more than 6700 business owners province-wide and is comprised of 32 Chambers of Commerce across the province.

For more information please contact:

Charles Cirtwill
AIMS President & CEO
charlescirtwill@aims.ca
(902) 429-1143 ex 225

Dr. Michael Bradfield
Research Associate, CCPA-NS
homecon@eastlink.ca
(902) 423-7706

Wayne Fiander
Executive Director
NS Chambers of Commerce
wayne@nschamber.ca
(902) 495-9549