Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow says she will reduce multi-residential tax rate to help renters

In an effort to keep landlords from passing the cost of property taxes on to renters, Chow says she plans to keep increases to 3.75% or lower as part of her proposed 2024 budget. Mark McAllister reports.

By Mark McAllister and Meredith Bond

​Mayor Olivia Chow says she is reducing the proposed tax increase for multi-residential properties to keep landlords from passing the cost onto renters.

The current proposed multi-residential tax rate increase is six per cent, broken down to 4.5 per cent in property taxes and the 1.5 per cent increase to the City Building Fund, which is a levy that supports capital projects.

This is the first proposed change from Chow that was presented to her by the Toronto budget committee.

Chow will be presenting her budget plan on Thursday that also contains a 10.5 per cent increase to residential property taxes.

The 10.5 per cent increase to residential property taxes and the 1.5 per cent increase to the City Building Fund is a result of a $1.8 billion shortfall due to chronic underspending in city services.

In a speech to the Canadian Club on Monday, Chow said, she is reducing the tax rate so no renters will pay huge increases. “That’s what you want. That’s what I’m going to do.”

She said in order for landlords to not pass along a dramatic increase onto renters, the multi-residential tax rate increase will have to be lower than a certain threshold. Chow is claiming that the amount will need be 3.75 per cent or less.

“Landlords will not be able to use that as an excuse to push up rent increase.”

As to how they will make up the lost revenue, Chow said, “I think you will find that answer in three days.” She confirmed she will still present a balanced budget.

Geordie Dent, the Executive Director of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Association said he was happy to see that the mayor is taking renters’ needs into consideration.

“I think that the mayor is really trying to ensure that they don’t have to eat these kinds of tax increases by getting them passed along, again I think it’s really great. I don’t think that that kind of consideration has been taken in past years so it’s something that we really appreciate.”

However, this reduction would not guarantee that the increases won’t be passed along to renters.

“The problem is that the tax increase that the city passes doesn’t always work out to be the increase that the landlord gets,” said Dent.

Dent also said he understands why the tax increases this year are so high.

“I know the City has gone through a rough period where it’s been kind of run into the ground, a lot of things are breaking and I know that council is saying that they feel the need to raise money so obviously there’s a need for that, and I think renters understand that. They take transit. They use city services. And so they really feel these things.”

The City is still waiting on the Federal government to provide $250 million necessary to support the refugees in Toronto’s shelter system.

If the federal government does not provide this funding, the City’s budget committee will need to introduce an additional Federal Impacts Levy of six per cent.

City Council is expected to review Chow’s proposed budget for approval on Feb. 14.

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