I believe any form of taxation should be progressive, and that those of us who can pay just a little bit more, should. On June 10th, I put forward the following motion for debate at the June 20th City Council Committee:
Edmonton needs a progressive property tax. Why?
- The ultra-wealthy are not paying their fair share. The province has cut municipal funding as well as taxes on the wealthiest.
- The city needs more money to solve the housing crisis, climate change, and other pressing problems
- Municipalities are the only level of government without progressive taxation. Alberta Had progressive taxation until it was repealed under the UCP.
The ultra-wealthy are not paying their fair share
While the millionaires and billionaires worldwide have made huge fortunes during the pandemic, the majority of people are struggling to get by. The rest of the homeowners and business owners in our city are currently paying the same tax rate of taxes as our most affluent citizens.
Land ownership and wealth are highly unequal in Edmonton, with the richest households in the city owning far more land than the poorest households. A progressive property tax – a mansion tax – would reduce wealth inequality and make sure the rich are paying their fair share.
Because we do not make our wealthiest neighbours pay their fair share of taxes, that accumulated wealth cannot be directed toward social housing or community-led services that are crucial to ending homelessness.
We have a choice: let the wealthy get even wealthier, or tax the rich and save the lives of those suffering from the impacts of poverty.
A relatively modest, common sense municipal progressive tax would redistribute wealth towards ending homelessness and improving public safety.
The city needs more money to solve the housing crisis, climate change, and other pressing problems
Federal and provincial governments are passing responsibilities to Edmonton, and the city has to pay more and more for the symptoms of the housing crisis, without an appropriate revenue source.
Whenever grassroots organizers demand comprehensive solutions to the housing crisis, our governments always say there is not enough money to provide housing, address the climate, or solve the overdose crisis.
Edmonton needs a way of redistributing money to meet the needs of its residents. With a progessive property tax, the city will have a source of funding to provide public services, reduce homelessness, support affordable housing, and fund decolonization efforts.
Case Study: British Columbia: Municipalities are the only level of government without progressive taxation
A progressive tax uses a lower tax rate for people who have less and a higher rate for those who have more. That means that those with less property have lower tax rates.
In BC, both the provincial and federal income taxes are progressive, with different tax rates for different income brackets. And, BC’s provincial property tax is also progressive – in 2018, BC changed the provincial “school tax” to include two new property tax brackets:
- Properties valued under $3 million do not pay this tax;
- Properties valued between $3 million and $4 million pay 0.2% tax;
- Properties valued above $4 million pay an additional 0.4% tax on the value above $4 million.
Edmonton's property tax is currently regressive, as it imposes the same rate on all properties regardless of the assessed value, or the amount of owners’ wealth. That means that the owners of small condos or houses pay the same tax rate as the owner of a mansion.
(Please see this explainer video from the City of Edmonton on Property Tax Assessment. You can learn more here https://www.edmonton.ca/residential_neighbourhoods/property-taxes)
July 5th, 2022 update:
This morning Postmedia ran my Op-Ed: "Why Edmonton needs a tax on mansions; Those of us who can afford to pay more should do just that"
Here's the link if you wouldn't mind sharing it on your social media or with your other elected officials.
It is clear we need taxation reform across Canada, and I've been inspired by the work by Canadians for Tax Fairness who have been holding the Federal Liberal Government to account on closing the loopholes, corporate welfare, and evasion.
On July 4th, the Globe and Mail shared that CEOs at Canada’s largest publicly traded companies saw 23% pay increase in 2021.