The recently announced harmonization of the GST and PST in Ontario is about to wreak havoc on the housing industry, one of the pillars of that province’s economy. It is a textbook case of poor government policy that will distort the province’s housing market over the long term, with a particularly devastating impact on the building industry.

Consider the following: When tax harmonization in Ontario takes effect in July, 2010, someone buying a new condo in Toronto costing $500,000 — the current median price in that city — will pay approximately $40,000 in additional taxes. If the same buyer considers moving up to a $600,000 purchase, the tax goes up another $17,000, for a total additional tax burden of close to $60,000. Total sales taxes on a new home purchase will exceed the 13% tax on an imported luxury car and the 15% sin tax levied on a glass of wine or pint of beer purchased at the local watering hole. But will new home purchasers be willing to pay these sky-high sales tax increases and, if not, what are the consequences?

Read James McKellar’s article “Home is where the tax is” in the National Post (April 16, 2009)

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