New Brunswick REALTORS® encouraged by proposed first steps in property tax reform
Source - NB Real Estate Association
The Association representing REALTORS® in New Brunswick says the provincial government has taken some important first steps in addressing property assessments and tax issues with the publication of their white paper: Improving New Brunswick’s property tax system.
"It is unfortunate there are not sufficient provincial revenues to allow the government to go even further with these reform strategies," says Brian Keirstead, Chair of the New Brunswick Real Estate Association’s Government Relations Committee. "The proposals in the white paper show the government has been listening to different ideas to make the system more equitable and reasonable. These proposals also represent the first government initiative to a comprehensive strategic approach to a very difficult issue."
For REALTORS® in New Brunswick, there are several positive components in the government’s proposed policy changes. One key proposal is the return to an assessment system based on market value, which will allow the tax burden to be more equitable for all property owners. Another is the announcement that assessment notices and property tax bills will be simplified, with monthly payments allowed.
"The white paper also introduces a mechanism to safeguard homeowners from large assessment spikes in the future," Mr. Keirstead added. "Annual assessments will be based on real market value and limited to a maximum increase of 10 per cent per year. This return to real market assessment will help remove inequities from the property tax system."
The Association also welcomes the proposal to begin reducing the double tax on non-owner occupied properties. "The government’s policy paper does try and tackle the issue of real estate investment with a phased-in approach to reduce double taxation on rentals, business and commercial properties, and second homes and cottages," Keirstead stated. "But this move to a more equitable approach is hampered by the reality of the challenges our government faces in finding revenues."
The Association believes that property tax and municipal reform in New Brunswick should follow four principles. The four principles are:
Policy must help attract new residents and homeowners to the province. New Brunswick needs population growth to expand its economy;
Policy must help attract both residential and commercial real estate investment, so there is more affordable rental housing and more places for people to find work;
Policy must keep homeownership affordable for those who already live here, especially seniors. Finding the right solution to help those on fixed incomes stay in their home will help resolve some other infrastructure issues, such as long-term care for seniors. New Brunswick could lead the country with innovative ways to help seniors financially stay at home longer; and
Policy must provide municipalities with the flexibility and financial resources to provide the services that their residents require. Any provincial property assessment system must also consider municipal revenue requirements.
"We encourage the government to keep looking for innovative solutions that can help seniors stay in their homes," Mr. Keirstead added. "This is both a taxation and social issue that can have a profound effect on many neighbourhoods."