October 6, 2014

A Comparison of Property Tax Rates

Not just for policy wonks!  Since civic governments’ main sources of revenue are property taxes and fees for services, almost every policy, program and good idea (or bad) have to take these into account.  And, you know, there is a civic election going on.
Good timing from the Altus Group:


2014 Property Tax Rate Comparison Report 

The first report offers a Canada-wide perspective and compares cities and regions in Canada.


Commercial rates (Vancouver is second from the left)

Commercial rates

Click to enlarge


Residential rates (Vancouver is on the left):
Residential rates

Click to enlarge


So what does this mean?

Residential property tax rates in the City of Vancouver rates are low, low, low.  Which means either (1) any increase would be really noticed – and no party or candidate dare suggest a substantial increase because it would look like a big, big jump in percent, or (2) there’s lots of room to manoeuvre to propose new services, create targeted taxes (whether, for instance, on empty houses or for transportation), while covering current expenditures.
YVRluytens makes a critical point about the difference in rates and actual dollar amounts between high- and low-value assessments.
But you still see why, when the provincial government sees those charts, they think that the City could pay more for transit expansion through increases in residential property taxes. 
But the comparison looks a little different when only Metro Vancouver municipalities are considered – tomorrow.

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    1. Excellent point. If you measured everything vs assessed values, Vancouver would have the cheapest gasoline, cheapest groceries, cheapest cell phones…

      1. Agreed.
        What’s the total residential tax revenue divided by the number of residents?
        Or would the total tax revenue divided by the number of housing units, be a better method?

  1. yvrlutyens is correct. If $X need to be collected and the property values are low, then the rate has to be higher to meet the projected budget needs. In Vancouver, the rate is low, but housing is worth tens of thousands of dollars more, so each $1000 of value needn’t be taxed at as high a rate. Thus, it is no surprise that Halifax, Regina, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg have higher rates. There is probably some lift to the tax rates for the cities in the East because snow-clearing and road repair budgets must be much greater than on the west coast (frost damage must drastically reduce the lifecycle of any road). But a better comparison would be city tax revenue per person, as the above comment suggests.

  2. Vancouver open data:
    Zone: RS, Units: 68539, Median Tax: 4524.65, Average Tax: 6334.56
    Zone: CD, Units: 42691, Median Tax: 1955.45, Average Tax: 5012.93
    Zone: RM, Units: 25197, Median Tax: 1874.53, Average Tax: 3483.64
    Zone: C, Units: 16702, Median Tax: 1813.23, Average Tax: 11203.81
    Zone: DD, Units: 15347, Median Tax: 1650.17, Average Tax: 12879.73
    Zone: RT, Units: 14580, Median Tax: 4144.94, Average Tax: 4521.4
    Zone: HA, Units: 2267, Median Tax: 1853.67, Average Tax: 11854.46
    Zone: FCCDD, Units: 1962, Median Tax: 2162.62, Average Tax: 3620.84
    Zone: FM, Units: 1841, Median Tax: 1908.84, Average Tax: 2842.26
    Zone: I, Units: 1723, Median Tax: 2941.57, Average Tax: 30136.41
    Zone: IC, Units: 1132, Median Tax: 1531.25, Average Tax: 8249.16
    Zone: M, Units: 811, Median Tax: 3870.28, Average Tax: 28452.47
    Zone: FSD, Units: 639, Median Tax: 20879.99, Average Tax: 19863.79
    Zone: BCPED, Units: 399, Median Tax: 2271.73, Average Tax: 5276.74
    Zone: MC, Units: 345, Median Tax: 2158.96, Average Tax: 9520.47
    Zone: DEOD, Units: 332, Median Tax: 28179.04, Average Tax: 11135.62
    Zone: RA, Units: 164, Median Tax: 19145.76, Average Tax: 12195.84
    Zone: FC, Units: 101, Median Tax: 1490.79, Average Tax: 10707.16
    Zone: CWD, Units: 18, Median Tax: 158243.89, Average Tax: 827867.03