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Doug Ford vows to slash land-transfer tax by 15% a year

Toronto mayoral candidate Doug Ford has vowed to cut the municipal land transfer tax by 15 per cent a year over four years if he’s elected on October 27, saying he’ll make up the loss of revenue by contracting out garbage east of Yonge Street and consolidating procurement among city agencies.

He made the announcement after meeting with the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) on Wednesday morning.

“I believe this tax hurts the economy and it hurts the housing market,” he said. “Worst of all it hurts our residents when they can least afford it.”

“It hits our seniors on fixed income when they are forced to downsize their home, and it hurts the young people when they want to buy a home.”

Ford also vowed to continue with the reductions if he’s elected for a second term, eventually phasing the tax out altogether.

“We will continue on until we eliminate the land transfer tax,” he promised, saying it would be slashed by 60 per cent over the first four years.

Rival John Tory said the city couldn’t afford to cut the tax, which brings in around $350 million a year, and Olivia Chow said it should be increased by one percentage point on residences over $2 million.

Both Tory and Chow said the city needs the money from the tax, but Ford said the cash can be found without dipping into homeowners’ pockets.

He said the city has saved $80 million by outsourcing garbage west of Yonge, and his plan to do the same in the east end would bring in up to $97 million.

Another $50-60 million could be obtained by consolidating spending among agencies like the TTC, Toronto police and Toronto Hydro.

Ford said a KPMG shared service review outlined even higher savings through procurement, but he was being “conservative” with his estimates.

The issue of contracting out garbage will be addressed at the first meeting of the new council, and Ford said he would “give councillors a realistic option to reduce 15 per cent without harming services,” by adopting the change.

“I believe this money is better spent by you, on furniture on renovations, on creating jobs and stimulating the economy.”

“I’m the only candidate that will commit to keeping taxes low and the only candidate that will build 32 kilometres of new subways. And I’m the only one with a plan to save you thousands of dollars by cutting the land transfer tax by 15 per cent.”

Toronto Real Estate Board’s Von Palmer said the agency is behind Ford’s idea.

“(We) support councillor Ford’s position on the Land Transfer Tax,” he said. “This is what the public expects…It’s an unfair tax.”

The tax is affecting home sales, he said, and many people are choosing to renovate instead of move to avoid paying it.