T.O. mayor to Realtors: To the trenches!

“I can’t say we’re gonna wipe it out this year, but it might be a quarter this year, a half next year, or — you know, but we’re gonna do it piece by piece,” Ford said on a local TV news program. “You’re gonna see a portion of the land transfer tax, I don’t know how much right now, gone by the end of next year.”

In the same breath, he asked supporters of the move, specifically Toronto Realtors, to help ease the way for the tax reduction. The Toronto Real Estate Board has already responded. So have opponents.

The city’s chief financial officer, Cam Weldon, says the tax, introduced in 2008, is the main reason the city has shown strong annual surpluses.

Still, TREB president Richard Silver says the tax is driving people away from the city, making it a less appealing place to live. The association introduced new report this week, meant to back up the concern.

A recent poll conducted by Ipsos Reid found that for those intending to move, 25% of those in Toronto intended to move to the 905, while just 3% of 905 residents planned to move to Toronto. TREB says the trend can be partially explained by the poll’s finding that 75% of people in Toronto and the 905 regions say they would move outside Toronto, specifically because of the Toronto Land Transfer Tax.

The tax, imposed in 2008, adds $5,351 to the cost of a $481,305 home, the city average. A 25 per cent cut would save the buyer of such a home $1,338. But it would also cost the city about $75 million: the tax is expected to generate about $300 million in 2011.

TREB is campaigning to have the tax repealed in its entirety.

“The Toronto Land Transfer Tax is no way to build a great city,” says TREB’s chief government and public affairs officer Von Palmer. “It creates inequality among our residents; it perpetuates irresponsible City budgeting; it threatens jobs; it makes our city less affordable; it makes City Hall less accountable; it hurts our environment; and it makes our roads even busier.”

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