How Bad Is Toronto’s Land Transfer Tax?

Toronto Politics | May 15, 2017

I suppose it depends on who is asking, and who is answering.

The provincial and municipal governments love the tax!  The Province of Ontario will collect approximately $2.6 Billion in the fiscal 2016-17 year, and the City of Toronto would probably be bankrupt without the tax they collect.

The land transfer tax we pay here in Toronto is awful, and it’s exceptionally punitive to those who want to transact in the market.

But how does it stack up against other cities and countries?  You’ll be absolutely shocked.  As I was, this past weekend…


I’m not saying “land transfer tax is unfair” because I’m a real estate agent.

But no matter what I say, people will always take it with a grain of salt because I sell houses and condos for a living.

I just don’t understand the tax, and I never have.

The best word I’ve been able to come up with over the years to describe the tax: arbitrary.

I suppose most taxes are arbitrary.  But then again, governments run off tax dollars, and they need to constantly create new ones in order to increase revenue.

So when “creating” something, perhaps one of the best ways to do so, is to be arbitrary.

But I also suppose I don’t understand tax to begin with.

I’ve always felt that a particular tax should be directly attributable to something.

The whole purpose of tax is to fund public expenditures on behalf of those who it’s collected from.

I can see how property tax is attributable to one’s property.  You pay the tax, because you’re using roads, hydro lines, you’re having your garbage picked up, etc.

But beyond that, most taxes aren’t attributable.

And the idea of paying for everything else that the government spends money on, well, I guess that’s what income tax is for.

But we all know taxation doesn’t end there!

In fact, there are actually very few taxes that are directly attributable, and if you wanted to “see” where your tax money is going, you’ll go blind trying.

As a result, we have arbitrary taxation.

Sales tax?  That’s a cash grab.  Buy something, pay a fee.  We’re so used to it, that you won’t call it arbitrary, but what role does the government have in the sale of goods and services?

There is no role.  That’s not what taxation is about.

Taxation is about finding yet another way to take money away from people, to redistribute through society.

The eco-taxes aren’t about saving the planet.  When you’re taxed on each winter tire, or printer ink, or flat-screen TV you purchase, it’s about the government being creative in finding ways to raise revenue.

So when it comes to land transfer tax, I think that’s just as reasonable/unreasonable as the rest.

What I don’t understand is why the tax is so much.

Why not spread the tax revenue around?  Come up with another dozen arbitrary taxes, instead of taking $30,000 from somebody buying a $1M house, especially when that $30,000 has absolutely nothing to do with the purchase and sale.  Transferring title, registering a deed – these things are paid for seperately!

I just can’t, and have never been able, to comprehend the sheer amount of the tax.

Perhaps a refresher, for those who don’t know how land transfer tax is calculated in Toronto.

We have the municipal portion, and the provincial portion, which work on sliding scales as follows:

Municipal Land Transfer Tax (Toronto)

0.5% from $0 to $55,000
1.0% from $55,001 to $400,000
2.0% from $400,000 onward

Provincial Land Transfer Tax (Ontario)

0.5% from $0 to $55,000
1.0% from $55,001 to $250,000
1.5% from $250,001 to $400,000
2.0% from $400,001 to $2,000,000
2.5% from $2,000,000 onward

As we know, there are rebates for first-time home-buyers as follows:

Municipal Land Transfer Tax (MLTT): Maximum $3,725
Provincial Land Transfer Tax (PLTT): Maximum $4,000

The provincial rebate was only $2,000, but Kathleen Wynne increased it, as she increased LTT on the amount over $2,000,000 from 2.0% to 2.5%.  That’s washing one hand with the other, eh?

The funny thing about LTT is that they have this silly little categories for $55,000, as though you can buy anything for $55,000.

Unless you’re a first-time buyer, purchasing a small 1-bed, 1-bath condo, you’re getting screwed.

Let’s say you’re that first-time buyer, and you’re purchasing a condo for $430,000.  You’d be paying a whopping $9,400 in LTT, but thanks to the rebates, you’re only on the hook for $1,675.

Now let’s say you’re moving up from a condo and buying a semi-detached, 3-bed, 2-bath house for $1,000,000 – you’re paying $32,200 in combined LTT.

And what about that detached house in High Park for $1,800,000?  You’re paying $64,200.

And while you refuse to pity the rich person who is buying for $4,200,000, just consider that this person, after working his or her way up to this point in life, gets to write a cheque for an absolutely mind-boggling $171,200.

And for what?

What does the buyer of real estate get for the privilege of writing that massive cheque?


You get nothing.

You don’t get additional garbage pickup, you don’t get to skip lines in the E.R., and you don’t get to turn left at Jarvis & Queen between 4-6pm on a weekday.

This tax simply goes into the coffers with all the other taxes, and it blends together, completely indistinguishable.

I suppose that is the problem I have with the tax.

There’s just no reason for the buyer of a $1.8M house to pay the government(s) $64,200.

If anything, the government should come by that person’s house with a “Congratulations” cake, and say, “Hey, you worked hard to get to this point, congrats on being able to afford this.”  Instead, the government is like a shark that smells blood in the water, and goes in for the kill.

Where there’s money, there’s more money.  If somebody can afford to buy real estate, they should have to pay a punitive, unnecessary, arbitrary tax.

This past weekend, my brother was visiting from England, where he lives with his family.

We were sipping our latte’s, talking shop, and while on the subject of my impending housing search, I began a rant that incorporated most of what I wrote above.

My brother patiently heard me out, listening to every word (and curse), and when I finished, he wryly said:

“Are you familiar with Stamp Duty?”

The question, asked ever-so-slowly, came with a little smirk; a smirk that I have gotten to know over the last thirty-plus years.

I paused for a bit, thinking about whether or not “stamp duty” was the unfortunate job of the person who has to lick all the stamps in the office of a wedding planner, each and every day, and at the same time contemplating what that smirk was all about.

“No,” I told my brother.  “Why?”

“Ooooooooh,” he replied, with the smirk growing into an ear-to-ear smile, “You miiiiiiiight want to look into it.”

“I think it might put things, here in Toronto, in perspective,” he said, as his teacup clinked against his saucer.

I knew I was missing something.

I know England has a very high personal income tax rate.  What the heck could “stamp duty” refer to?

So I did what 99.99% of the population does when they don’t know something: I Googled it.

And I was absolutely shocked.

“You have to be kidding,” I said, as my brother sat there with a grin.

“This can’t be correct,” I said, as my brother replied, “Oh, it’s bloody accurate.”

Geez.  Spend a couple of years in England, and suddenly you’re Clive Owen.

Stamp duty, ladies and gentlemen, is land transfer tax, for Brits.  And the Welsh, and the Northern Irish.  The Scots got off……..wait for it……….scot-free

The stamp duty, or land transfer tax, is just absolutely insane over there.

Here’s how their sliding scale breaks down:

0% from £0 to £125,000
2% from  £125,001 to £250,000
5% from £250,001 to £925,000
10% from £925,001 to £1.5 million
12% from £1.5 million onward



Our highest rate is 2.5%.

And theirs is twelve?

Let’s compare that to ours, just for fun.

Ignoring the exchange rate, since everything costs more over there anyways, let’s look at our examples again.

The $430,000 condo?

The stamp duty would be $11,500, compared to $9,400 here in Toronto, and it’s only that low because they have no duty on the first $125,000.

The $1,000,000, 3-bedroom semi?

$43,750 in the UK, compared to $32,200.

The $1,800,000 house in High Park?

$129,750 in the UK, compared to $64,200.

And that poor schmuck who worked his ass off to buy a $4,200,000 house?

$363,750 in the UK, compared to $171,200.

It’s absolutely, positively, insane.

And consider that the price of real estate is much higher over there, and there are far more $20,000,000 houses!

Can you imagine?  $20 Million?  The buyer writes a cheque for $1,943,750 for taxes!

What is the government over there trying to accomplish?

It’s even crazier than the Ontario Liberals’ “16-Point Plan.”

I’ve heard anecdotally that people who own property in England never become “move-up buyers.”

The owners of a 3-bed, 2-bath flat won’t sell that property and buy a new one, because of the stamp duty.  Instead, they rent out the flat that they own, and seek to rent a 4-bed, 4-bath flat at a higher price.

In turn, this significantly lowers the amount of properties that come available for sale, which as we all know, drives prices up.

Folks, I cringe when I hear the words “land transfer tax,” and I get riled up, and want to rant.

It bothers me to no end, as you can imagine.

But as much as love Earl Grey tea, skin-tight dress-pants, and Downton Abbey, I thank God I don’t live in jolly ole’ England, and have to hear the words “stamp duty.”

Maybe, just maybe, we don’t have it quite as bad as we thought, here in the T-Dot…

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  1. Ralph Cramdown

    at 8:20 am

    UK estate agent fees vary considerably, new research shows

    Estate agent fees in the UK often lack transparency and there is great variation in the levels of fees that estate agencies across London charge, according to a [2012] survey. […] The majority of [London] estate agencies surveyed quoted 1.5% commission, but 15% of agents quoted the lowest fee of 1%. The highest commission level quoted was 2.5%. […] The survey also found that estate agent fees in London at an average of 1.7% are more or less in line with the national average of 1.8%, contrary to the perception that London estate agent fees are the highest in the country. Sellers are paying on average almost £7,000 in estate agency fees including VAT based on the average London property price of £342,749.

    What you lose on the swings, you make up for on the roundabouts?

  2. Bonnie

    at 8:44 am

    “…as his teacup clinked against his saucer.” I laughed out loud 🙂 Your writing is awesome.

  3. Jackie

    at 9:13 am

    0.5% from $0 to $55,000 would cover items such as lockers, parking spots and land value of a lot (probably rural lots that have a portion sliced off for sale to a neighbour)

  4. Geoff

    at 9:21 am

    At the end of the day, the city needs this LTT to keep funding itself. If LTT was eliminated or removed, that funding would come out of taxes for everyone. Personally I’m in favour of taxes for optional consumption (liquor, home buying, cigarettes) than taxes that are across the board. Also I don’t think anyone in TO is not buying a house because of LTT, no matter how much the real estate industry says so. And in fact the fact that as you say countries with much higher real estate (and therefore, much higher stamp duties) are still selling, actually lends some credence to that point.

  5. Kramer

    at 9:23 am

    I love the first time homebuyer’s rebate… two reasons:

    1. Because it’s impossible for a young first time homebuyer to save up a responsible downpayment.
    2. I picture the government being a shady drug dealer… saying “First one’s free!”.

    Five of my neighbours have said these very words “when you look at how expensive it is to move, we figure we’ll just renovate”.

    It’s a real thing. It has played a role seizing up the market. Real Estate is already a relatively illiquid asset (you can’t just click a button and have it off your books by end of trading day + two days settlement). Illiquidity + Huge Transaction Costs = Inefficient markets.

  6. O

    at 9:47 am

    Yup. This is why I am still in the same house. So I need to give the government tens of thousands of dollars (on top of all the taxes they already take) for the privilege of moving? Sorry, not happening. Like David said, what do I get for this huge payout? More garbage collection? City workers bringing me mimosa’s every morning? What does this money buy me? Oh yes, that’s right. It gets me nothing.

    I know some egghead is going to chime in that “his studies show that the taxes effect are minimal…. yadda yadda.” I can only go by my experience and what I have seen in my area since the tax has been introduced. We are not moving if we have to pay this tax. Houses in my area rarely come up because no one moves up anymore. All the recent sales have been after the owner passed away.

    1. Ralph Cramdown

      at 10:41 am

      I believe yo when you say that the LTT has dissuaded you from moving, and I think there’s probably tens of thousands of households like yours in Toronto. Two things, though:

      One, there’s probably a bit of a fallacy of composition here. You look at today’s price for your house, and for your move-up house, and say “I’d do it but for the LTT.” The LTT doesn’t just affect you, though. Tens of thousands of other move-up buyers would also be coveting that place. Eliminating the LTT wouldn’t increase supply at the top end, because there’s no “up” for those households to move to. It wouldn’t increase demand at the bottom end, because first time buyers’ credits and the burning urge to get onto the property ladder makes those buyers tax-indifferent. But it would certainly change the dynamics and relative prices of the various market segments in between.

      Two, a lot of people seem allergic to taxes. For almost everyone who isn’t a FSBO seller, agents’ commission is still a far bigger part of the cost of moving up than is the LTT. But when people talk about the excessive costs of moving up, they tend to focus on the LTT. Why?

      1. o

        at 11:20 am

        Ralph asked “when people talk about the excessive costs of moving up, they tend to focus on the LTT. Why?”

        As David said, the absolute arbitrary nature of it. I understand that there are costs to life. I can live with paying a realtor a big commission…the more I get, the more they make. I can live with paying a lawyer, mover, home inspector or anyone else for providing me with a service.

        But why am I giving the govt. this money? What do I get? They sign a piece of paper? Miller and his gang decided that they want a piece of my action. They essentially voted themselves a huge payday on my back. It just feels like an unfair tax grab. I already pay property tax. I pay for the services I get. I pay MORE now that my property has gone up, despite using the same amount of services. There are enough taxes in this country that I have no choice but to pay. This one I do have a choice and I am choosing not to participate.

        1. Ralph Cramdown

          at 12:24 pm

          I actually agree with you and David that the LTT is pretty arbitrary, and pretty bad. But I also think I know why we’ve got it, and why we’re stuck with it.

          1) You can’t get elected mayor in this town, or even city councillor in most wards, unless you promise to hold property tax increases to inflation or below. You can’t get reelected if you break that promise. But building Toronto is costing more than that, and voters/taxpayers are, ahem, not geniuses, so fees get slapped on a bunch of things, and then increased faster than inflation, just to keep property tax increases at 2%.

          2) That great sucking sound you hear is the province (and Ottawa) taking Toronto taxes and spending them in North Bay and Grimsby. Urban Toronto, alas, leans strongly Liberal in its voting, and smart politicians spend more money in ridings that are in play than in those that are safe or unwinnable.

          3) The politician who introduces the tax wears it, as evidenced by your blaming the LTT on Miller. The province, rather than spending more money on Toronto, graciously allows Toronto some tax powers that other municipalities don’t get. “Go tax yourself!” But see what happened with road tolls: “Oh no, we didn’t mean you could tax our precious 905 swing voters on the Gardiner and the DVP. We were hoping you’d put the tolls on Bloor Street and Eastern Avenue!” Poor John Tory, in short pants, is left sucking his thumb.

          4) As others have pointed out, the LTT now contributes a LOT to the city’s budget (probably much more than was expected when it was enacted, before the boom really got going). I think I calculated once that property taxes would have to go up 8% if the LTT was eliminated. That ain’t gonna happen.

          5) Taxes or expenses that everyone has to pay regularly are hugely unpopular — note how the annual car registration tax got repealed, and the crazy schemes Queen’s Park is using to lower electric bills for current taxpayers (have future taxpayers pay for today’s electricity use!) But taxes that only affect people intermittently, or disproportionately affect a small segment of society? They stay around forever, unless that segment has huge political power. Even the real estate industry doesn’t have the power to get the LTT undone.

        2. Ralph Cramdown

          at 8:09 am

          I just gotta say one more thing…

          David often trots out his Econ 101 homilies with his favourite buddies Supply and Demand.

          But Econ 101 makes no allowances for real people, people who when presented with “it’ll cost you $80,000 in expenses to move up,” say “Oh? And where are those $80,000 going? Because if it’s to pay the guy in the Lexus, I’m OK with it, but if it’s tax, get stuffed!”

          1. O

            at 10:17 am

            Yes, Ralph, but you forget that the guy in the Lexus (assuming you mean realtors) is the one who does all the work to get me my price. They only make that 80 grand by getting me a high enough price to justify that commission. They are paid for providing a service which I can choose to not use. Again, the key point. I can choose to use a realtor or not.

            In the case of a tax, I have no choice but to pay, I have no choice where the money goes, I have no choice in who provides the service that my money is used for, no choice in reducing my burden by finding a more efficient alternative. That is why I think why an unfair tax like the double LTT rubs raw. I already pay for the services I use through property tax. I pay the province already to do an LTT. Why am I paying this? Oh yes, the city needs more of my money.

          2. Ralph Cramdown

            at 12:06 pm

            O, if you’re thinking of selling, agents will spend all day telling you why they’re worth the money. THAT is when they’re actually selling… themselves. There’s no amount of work your agent can do that will get you “your price” if that price is above market. And if you need to pay somebody 2.5% to tell you to clean up, declutter, paint and be available for showings, well…

            Funny story: I chose to sell a house without an agent in Burlington a few years ago. A few days after the deal went firm, I dropped in on a broker’s open (an agent I’d met who was selling her own house) a few blocks away. Talking to another agent there, I told her what I’d done. “Oh, THAT house. That house sold itself” she sniffed. So you see, if you hire an agent, they’ll totally be worth the money, but if you sell the place yourself (at 6% over an appraiser’s estimate), any damn fool could have done it!

          3. Ralph Cramdown

            at 12:40 pm

            …and really, whether a cost is “optional” or not should not make a difference. If YOU choose to use an agent to sell your home, that’s a cost, and if you choose not to, it isn’t. The dollars aren’t any smaller just because you had a choice. See Kramer’s arguments below.

            Like I said, real world economics is a lot weirder than the textbook stuff.

          4. Condodweller

            at 2:08 pm

            Unfortunately, real estate fees are not optional, even if you go FSBO, as long as the seller pays for the buyer’s agent. If one wants to sell their home in a timely manner it has to be listed on MLS and the buyer’s agent needs to be paid otherwise he/she will not bring a buyer.

            The first item needs changing is that buyers pay for their own agent. Until that happens there is 0 incentive for a buyer to go for FSBO units.

            To use David’s example at the high end, one would pay $210,000 for the privilege of selling the home. Even if that person decides to go the FSBO route but still pays the buyers agent, he/she would be forking over $105,000. That is insanity.

            Yes, agents keep propagating their propaganda that they won’t leave money on the table for you. As long as enough of them keep repeating it, people will believe it.

            I really love those realtor ads on tv where the people move in next door to a biker gang/nudist etc. and the punch line is “you should have hired a realtor”. Ok, realtors, by a show of hands how many of you have ever knocked on the neighbours’ door to check who lived there before making an offer for your client? Right, that’s what I thought.

          5. Kyle

            at 2:43 pm

            Whether one thinks an Agent provides good value for the fee is a completely different topic than LTT. Not everyone has the time, expertise, tools, network, nerves nor inclination to gamble with the sale of their home in the hopes that they can get the same result an experienced Agent would, just to save 2.5%. To a lot of people a good Agent provides an invaluable service, the LTT on the other hand does not.

          6. Condodweller

            at 9:28 pm

            The service may be invaluable but not the price. If you can make $210,000 during the few days it takes to sell a property then it might make sense. It’s like a plumber charging $10,000 to fix your leak.

            LTT and RE fees are exactly the same for the purpose of this discussion. You get some service for an exorbitant price. There is a cost to maintaining and updating the land registry system so you actually do get some service for your money, just not a $171,200 worth. Same goes for an agent. They do provide an invaluable service to many, they just don’t get value for what they are asked to pay.

          7. Kyle

            at 10:38 pm

            The cost to register your title, is part of your legal bill, not the LTT.

        3. Daniel

          at 1:47 pm

          O, your understanding of how the property tax is calculated is incorrect. The value of your property going up does not mean your tax bill goes up. It’s all tied into how your assessed value moved compared to the average. Probably easiest to google it rather than have me explain it. This is because the mill rate is calculated each year, using the total assessed value for the city, to arrive at the required budget (which they typically increase less than inflation each year).

    2. McBloggert

      at 7:11 pm

      Ralph pretty much summed up everything I was thinking in a very polite succinct manner.

      However, I will add if you aren’t prepared to move due to “tens of thousands” in what LTT would amount to – you aren’t really a motivated seller/buyer in the first place. Without the LTT or with the LTT you would likely find a reason not to move.

      Transaction costs taken as a whole, and I am lumping in realtor fees, are a barrier for some to move. If you take your LTT and your realtor fees; plus everything else, for many that bill is now well into the six figures. Six figures of equity that you are giving up. Does it stop people from moving? But it likely means people don’t move until they are really motivated.

      1. Kramer

        at 10:38 am

        It is absolutely the combination of all the transaction costs. And it is absolutely a factor. Some people here are talking like it is just some kind of wash or unimportant. That is absolutely inaccurate, and if you are overlooking it in any way you have your head in the sand.

        For the individual making the move it is all absolutely 100% real dollars and is a very HARD cost of the moving process.
        If you have $400,000 in equity in your home, that is part of your net worth, and it is tax-sheltered to boot.
        If you move and your total transaction costs are $100,000, your equity in your next home will be $300,000, or your Cash Savings will drop $100K.
        You have “funded your move” with 25% of your equity, or with $100K in cash.
        Either way your net worth just went down $100,000.
        $100,000 is a lot of money. A LOT OF MONEY. A LOT OF MONEY. A LOT OF MONEY.

        Furthermore, your presumably larger new mortgage for your new house will ALSO be $100,000 larger because you sucked 25% of your equity out on transaction costs (or you’re losing out on interest/investment income on your $100,000 cash).
        So your future cash flows are worse off because of them, and your leverage position may be higher if you funded them with your equity.

        Transaction costs are real. Transaction costs are real. Transaction costs are real.

        Transaction costs are one of the most expensive transactions any person will engage in.

        If people say it is too expensive to move (costs outweigh benefits), they are not being naive, they are being FINANCIALLY DILIGENT.

        1. Kramer

          at 10:59 am

          And it depends on what the motivation is, not just how motivated you are.

          You can’t pay $100,000 to make your location better. So is living in a better location worth $100,000 of your net worth. Depends on how motivated you are.

          You CAN pay $100,000 to make your house better. So if your motivation is to have a better house, some people are saying screw it, I will convert that $100,000 asset (cash or equity) into another asset form (increase in value of my home) vs having it fly off my balance sheet and out of my net worth. It makes a ton of sense.

        2. Kyle

          at 2:27 pm

          This is bang on!

          Obviously, LTT isn’t the only transaction cost and it may not even be the largest portion of transaction costs. No one ever said it was. But it is still a very real hugely material cost, that no one in their right mind wants to pay. To say it doesn’t discourage people from moving just because there are other transaction costs is super-naive.

          Sure it’s anecdotal, but I’ve heard the exact same thing from many people. Anyone i know who owns a single family home, is staying put. They’d rather renovate than move. Those are the same properties in the shortest supply. This is not a coincidence.

    3. Carl Warner

      at 1:31 pm

      “What do I get for this huge payout?” “What does this money buy me? Oh yes, that’s right. It gets me nothing.”

      Oh, I see. It’s all about you.

      Depressing (not to mention a little scary) to think that I live in a society (a word you’re apparently not familiar with) that includes the likes of you.

      1. O

        at 2:12 pm

        Hi Carl

        Here is a chance for you to increase your virtue signalling potential! All you have to do is take advantage of the option to voluntarily pay more of your money to the city. Think of how much more enlightened you will appear as you wag your finger to all those without your deep, deep sense of civic duty. But first, you might want to look into getting some help for your fear and depression issues.

        1. Carl Warner

          at 2:23 pm

          You’re right. Being selfish is so much more enlightened.

          1. O

            at 2:39 pm

            Hey Carl

            So have you decided yet how much more you were giving the city from your own pocket above the taxes you already pay? I don’t want to seem selfish to strangers on the internet, so if you give me a ball park on how much YOU are giving, perhaps I can match it and then be worthy in your eyes. Maybe that will also help with the fear and depression?

    4. Condodweller

      at 1:48 pm

      “More garbage collection?”

      The irony of this is that the city has been threatening me to not pick up my garbage! Imagine with all the money they are raking in they don’t even want to do their job.

      In our condo we must recycle a certain percentage of our garbage which apparently we haven’t been meeting for various reasons. We have been paying surcharges/penalties call it what you will, and the next step is a total cut off of their service, potentially forcing us to go with a private contractor.

      If that were to happen, do you think we’ll get a refund on our taxes? I think not.

  7. Free Country

    at 11:05 pm

    Having lived in the UK (but never owned property there), I can confirm two key effects from stamp duty:
    1. It distorts the market, in that the full duty (e.g. 5%) is charged on the price, but it is not incremental or graduated. So nothing is for sale in the range of e.g. GBP 250k-270k.
    2. Because it makes moving expensive, and forces people to stay put (as you highlighted), even people who are asset-rich because they own their homes are disinclined to move to other towns and cities to pursue jobs or other opportunities. This causes inefficiencies and shortages in some local labour markets.

    1. Jack

      at 11:43 am

      Re: “2. Because it makes moving expensive, and forces people to stay put …”

      And of course this is one argument often used to advocate renting instead of buying. Just goes to show that nothing about housing is simple, even if we are tempted to think of housing as just another market.

  8. Jeff

    at 10:12 am

    OK, this tax rant is kinda commical and nonsensical – if you have ever had to study taxes.

    Sales tax is the best form of taxation. Just about every right wing economists feel’s it is the best to tax at consumption vs creation of income (income tax) it will lead to highest form of growth and incomes. Can’t hide or lower it. Like writing off your lexus lease vs your business to lower your income taxes.

    The land transfer tax is bad for another reason, which I don’t think you mentioned is it stops transactions. Toronto collects about $600 Million a year in land transfer taxes, if that was just blended into property tax rates instead (a big increase) it would lead to more places being on the market. Right now it makes sense just to hang onto units as oppose to buying/selling since you are paying a transaction tax on an item that already has an efficient tax on it.

    Taxes are not good or bad, they just indicate the level of service we want from the government. You can’t say in one blog transit is horrible, and next saying taxes are too high – all while the provinces is putting in on average 1 billion a year to the TTC over last several years. That 1 billion has to come from somewhere. We have the most expensive transit project ever built in this country happening right now in Toronto (crosstown) all paid for by the province fully. Sure get rid of the provincial land transfer, but if its not replaced you have to cancel the crosstown as well.

    1. Libertarian

      at 10:37 am

      Well said!

      Seeing how it’s confederation’s 150th anniversary and income tax’s 100th, it’s a good time to debate what the role of government should be for the next 100 and 150 years. Then we can decide on what form of taxation would best fund that role. The world has changed dramatically in the last 100 years – it’s time our government do the same.

      1. Jeff

        at 11:04 am

        The issue is people just look at it as the next election cycle.

        People were against Harper for his boutique tax credits, but people complained when Trudeau took away the transit tax credit, which is a boutique tax credit.
        If you got rid of credits for kids, seniors income credit, tuition credit, first time home buyers credit (all boutique tax credits) people would complain and vote for a different party.

        We are in the terrible tax code mess because people want governments to give them stuff (actual goods or tax credits)

  9. Alexander

    at 11:24 am

    I think it would be fair to get a refund in transfer taxes when you are buying new house after selling your first one in Toronto – both from province and city – for the amount that you already paid when you bought it. Probably would not happen, but it will help with mobility.

  10. Max

    at 12:19 pm

    You folks are forgetting that $3,000,000,000 for a one-stop subway to nowhere doesn’t grow on trees.

    1. Ralph Cramdown

      at 12:44 pm

      It is going to be $4B, minimum. But that’s the price we pay, according to local cheerleaders, to be a Global City. Other Global Cities get more stops for their billions, but we’re special.

  11. Condodweller

    at 1:38 pm

    I am looking forward to David’s post tomorrow titled “How Bad Is Toronto’s Real Estate Fee?” to properly cover two of the biggest costs of selling a home.

    It is even worse than the LTT as it is double the LTT at the highest bracket, and oh yeah, it’s not graduated like the LTT.

  12. LarryD

    at 3:45 pm

    Wow a tax rant! Those are rare on the interweb.

  13. DavidP

    at 11:49 am

    Ranting about the double land transfer tax alone doesn’t take into account the lower property tax revenue in the City. I’d like to see you write a post that incorporates a comparison of the lower property taxes in the 416 versus the 905. Then sum up the total amount of taxes from both land transfer and property for a home.

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