Staff with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality say Nova Scotia's capped property assessment set-up is creating an unfair system.


When a house is sold, the Nova Scotia tax cap no longer applies. So the new owner can pay twice the taxes of an identical house next door. (Dave Simms/CBC)

People studying the tax system say identical properties are being taxed by vastly different amounts. In some cases, homes valued $50,000 less than a neighbour's property have higher taxes.

John MacKinnon, head of the CBRM's technology and communication department, said the inequities are growing.

“Probably within two or three years it will make the whole concept of taxation by assessment of properties obsolete. Even now if you go down your particular street you'd probably find the majority of the homes, for no particular reason,  are assessed at different  values,” he said.

"Two houses exactly the same you'll find that the person who just moved in would be paying twice the amount of taxes as the person that lives next door to them, only because they just bought the property because the cap would have been removed from that particular property. For us that seems relatively unfair." 

'It will make the whole concept of taxation by assessment of properties obsolete.'  - John MacKinnon

Another problem, according to MacKinnon, is properties in wealthy neighbourhoods increase more in value than those in low income neighbourhoods, but because of the cap they no longer pay the full tax increase.

He said the system benefits the rich more than the poor.

Without the cap, MacKinnon said the CBRM could afford to cut its property taxes by 15 per cent, meaning 67 per cent of CBRM residents would actually pay less tax than they do now.

Municipal Affairs Minister Mark Furey said there are no plans to change the system.