Time to fix broken property tax assessment system in BC’s municipalities

CFIB challenges municipal election candidates to support property tax reform to help small businesses struggling with skyrocketing tax bills

VANCOUVER, October 15, 2018 – As Small Business Week kicks off across the country, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) today released a report showing how BC’s deeply flawed property tax assessment system has caused ballooning tax bills for entrepreneurs and recommends one fundamental way of fixing it by changing the current method of classifications.

CFIB is also challenging candidates for mayor and council in the October 20th municipal election to publicly commit to meaningful property tax reform.

“It is encouraging to hear some candidates for mayor across the province talk in recent election forums about the tax burden on business owners,” said Richard Truscott, CFIB Vice President, BC and Alberta.

“Skyrocketing property taxes are putting many small businesses on the brink. Quite frankly, our communities will continue to lose unique neighbourhood shops if the current taxation model stays in place. As one owner of a local flower shop recently said to us, it takes a lot of three dollar flowers to pay for big jumps in property taxes,” stated Truscott.

A key problem identified in the report is how assessments are done in BC. Buildings zoned for mixed-use and have undeveloped residential potential are taxed entirely at a much higher commercial tax rate.

CFIB recommends this be changed: the commercial value of the property should be taxed at the commercial rate, and the undeveloped residential potential at the (much lower) residential rate. This would immediately lower the tax burden facing local businesses (see Figure 1 for example).

“Election candidates need to focus on ways to take the weight of property taxes off the shoulders of small businesses, and improving how commercial properties are assessed is the first step. Local businesses are a vital part for our communities, and for them to survive new approaches and innovative ideas need to be implemented,” concludes Truscott.

The report can be found here. To arrange an interview with Richard Truscott Vice-President, BC and Alberta, please call 604-684-5325 or email msbc@cfib.ca after 8.30AM PT. 

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every sector and region, including 10,000 in B.C