If you can afford a mansion, you can afford more property taxes

Jean Swanson, one of the candidates in this fall’s by-election for Vancouver City Council, has recently proposed a mansion tax. Under her proposal, property taxes would be tiered in much the same way that income tax is tiered — the lower your property value, the lower your property tax rate would be.

In making her point, Jean made her announcement in front of Lululemon founder Chip Wilson’s $76-million home in Point Grey. The mansion tax would see the owners of homes valued at $5 million and up to $10 million pay an additional 1 percent in property taxes. For homes worth $10 million or more, owners would pay an additional 2 percent. In Chip’s case, for instance, she says it would mean paying an additional $1.7 million over the $195,000 in property taxes he’s already paid.

The revenue generated by this additional mansion tax, which she estimates to be about $174 million annually, would be used to help address the crisis of homelessness in Vancouver.

Jean’s proposal seems to have captured the imagination of many civic watchers, including me: It’s a doable idea. It makes sense. It would only affect a small percentage of Vancouver’s homeowners.

If we can tier income tax, why can’t we do the same thing for property taxes? As a society, we accept the idea that those with higher income should have their income taxed at a higher rate. Most would be strongly opposed to a flat tax on income. But we currently have a flat tax on property. Whether you own a postage-stamp-sized $200,000 condo or a sprawling, 10-bedroom property worth tens of millions of dollars, your property is now taxed at the same rate.

Let’s hope Jean’s idea catches fire. Regardless of who wins the municipal by-election, it would be great to witness her proposal implemented at 12th and Cambie.

This entry was posted in affordable housing, City Hall, COPE, homelessness, National Housing Strategy, social justice, Vancouver, Vision Vancouver and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to If you can afford a mansion, you can afford more property taxes

  1. Alan Cooper says:

    Yes it’s time! This by-Election *should* become a referendum on the “mansion tax” idea and everyone should support it by voting for Jean Swanson on Oct 14 (or before). There is no downside! or as UBC economist Thomas Davidoff said last Saturday “Politicians don’t like to irritate the kind of people who live in $5 million to $10 million homes. But there’s no good reason not to do it.”

    See also http://vancouversun.com/news/politics/mansion-tax-proposal and
    http://qpr.ca/blogs/2017/09/25/council-candidate-pitches-mansion-tax-in-vancouver/

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