OREA CEO Tim Hudak in 2012. Photo: Laurel L. Russwurm/Flickr

The Ontario Real Estate Association wants Toronto councillors to vote against a proposal that would increase the city’s land transfer tax.

Young families are starting to face a “CN Tower-sized challenge” when looking for affordable Toronto homes, the real estate industry group said in a statement sent out this morning.

“Toronto City Council has an opportunity to take action to support more affordable home ownership in our city,” said Tim Hudak, OREA’s CEO and one-time leader of the Ontario PC Party, in the statement.

Toronto is the only Ontario municipality charging its own land transfer tax. The municipal tax is applied alongside the provincial land transfer tax.

Ontario announced in mid-November that it was doubling the minimum rebate for first-time buyers to $4,000, up from $2,000 in an effort to tackle affordability issues.

First-time homebuyers in Toronto are eligible for a maximum rebate of $3,725 off the municipal tax, according to the City.

That means a newly minted homeowner would pay no tax on a home valued at $400,000.

Hudak said he would like to see Toronto follow the province’s example by doubling the municipal debate.

“Voting down the proposal to increase the (land transfer tax) is a good first step, but I encourage Council to go even further,” he added.

In 2016, the average selling price of a Toronto home, including condo units, was $740,685.

Not including a rebate, a buyer purchasing a home valued at the Toronto’s average selling price would currently pay about $10,539 to the City, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board’s Land Transfer Tax Calculator.

City staff are currently considering tax changes as a step towards creating the finalized 2017 budget for Toronto.

A City of Toronto staff report from November outlines a proposal to harmonize the Toronto and Ontario land transfer taxes and related rebates.

Doing so will cost Toronto homebuyers more, critics say.

Harmonizing could result in Toronto homebuyers paying a 1.5 per cent tax on homes valued between $250,000 and $400,000, up from the current 1 per cent, the Toronto Star reports.

If the harmonized tax meant first-time Toronto homebuyers would also get a higher $4,000 rebate, TREB says it still wouldn’t make up for the higher tax on homes in the $250,000-to-$400,000 range.

Today’s OREA statement is hardly the first time Hudak has been critical of the proposed increase to Toronto’s land transfer tax.

Late last month in a column he penned for the Financial Post, the former politician called on Toronto to offer a bigger rebate to first-time buyers.

TREB has also been a vocal opponent of the proposed tax hike, and earlier today announced a campaign to stop it.

The board says its campaign website, anotherobstacle.ca, will “shed light on proposed changes to the City’s Land Transfer Tax.”

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