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Are high property taxes weighing your business down?

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For over 10 years, we have warned municipal and provincial governments that you are paying an unfair amount of property taxes. In 2019 alone, many businesses saw double digit increases in their bill compared to last year. 

Now that the problem has come to a boiling point, governments are slowly starting to listen. 

Will the Provincial government move forward on a bill that could lower your property tax bill? 

The fight for property tax fairness continues. 

The City of Vancouver and business communities (including CFIB) have endorsed a proposal that could bring down your property tax bill. The proposal would allow municipalities to target specific areas (e.g. Main Street) hardest hit by rising property bills, and split the assessment into two parts: what is physically there on the property, and its future value (known as highest and best use). Municipalities would be able to set a lower tax rate on the “future value” than what it’s currently taxed at, bringing down the property tax bill. This tool would be available to all municipalities if the Provincial government decides to implement it.   

In order for that to happen, we need the Provincial government to take action now. We have continued to urge the government to act quickly on this important issue.
In October, the opposition tabled the Assessment (Split Assessment Classification) Amendment Act, which is the same proposal made by the City of Vancouver and business communities.  If the government allows it to proceed, property tax relief may be on the horizon. 

This is an important policy which is why we were pleased to stand up in support of the opposition bill and we will stand behind any party willing to move on this important issue for small business.


Some progress

In May, the City of Vancouver approved a modest reduction in the property tax share paid by business owners, approving a 2 per cent shift off of commercial properties over the next three years, and also acknowledge there is still much more to do. While this is a step in the right direction, there is a lot more that needs to be done, which is why we are continuing the fight.

Our fight

In July we released a series of stories, profiling 5 CFIB members in the MetroVancouver region who are struggling to keep up with skyrocketing property taxes. These stories help British Columbians understand that there is a problem, and something needs to be done. It also puts pressure on municipal governments and the province that bold action must be taken to help businesses struggling to take on rising property taxes. You can read the stories here, as well as sign our property tax petition.

We also recently spoke on Global News, CTV News Vancouver, Vancouver Sun, and others about the issue of property taxes, reaching a very wide audience. Thanks to your stories, we are able to talk on these platforms and put pressure on policy makers to shift the property tax burden off of your business.

Property Tax Report

In 2018, we released a new report highlighting just how poorly municipal governments have been treating local businesses like yours. You can read it by clicking here. 

Our report presents an entirely new way to look at property tax inequality. We look at the percent of total municipal property taxes business owners paid versus what portion of property value they made up (otherwise known respectively as the “property tax share” and “assessment share”). In a fair system, the values should be roughly the same, where business owners pay taxes based on what they own… but this was far from the case in BC’s 20 largest cities.  In 2018, business owners paid for nearly 30% of all property taxes, but only accounted for roughly 12% of all properties! In other words, business owners are responsible for an unfair amount of property taxes.

We call the difference between the total property tax bill and total property value the “property tax fairness ratio” – in this case, a ratio of 2.4. It confirms what previous reports have said: business owners are getting the short end of the stick.

Add your voice to our call to action!

If you have any stories about property taxes weighing down your business, please send them to [email protected] . We will continue to stand up against unfair policies by meeting with local politicians, conducting reports, and speaking out loudly to defend your business’ interests.