Property tax reforms mean higher bills for some
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says New Brunswick's new approach to property taxes will mean higher bills for people who live in fast-growing urban areas, such as Dieppe.
Local Government Minister Bruce Fitch released a discussion document on property tax reform that called for a number of changes on Wednesday.
Kevin Lacey, the Atlantic director for the taxpayers federation, said the most significant change that will affect the largest number of citizens is the elimination of the three per cent property assessment cap, which was introduced two years ago.
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The cap has given homeowners and homebuyers a degree of security, he said.
"So if you go and you're going to buy a house in Riverview tomorrow, you would know generally what you're going to pay in taxes over the coming years," Lacey said.
The changes don't deal with rising assessments, which are used to calculate property taxes, so there could be major jumps in taxes, he said.
"When this comes off, you're now at the whim of the assessments and if your assessment goes up and the tax rates don't change at the municipal level, then you're going to end up paying more tax," Lacey said on Thursday.
He said the changes put the responsibility on municipalities to deal with tax rates.
There will be a permanent exemption given for homeowners who took advantage of the two-year assessment cap.
Bonus for some
Lacey says the changes are a good thing for those who own second homes, or apartment or commercial building owners, who will see a reduction of the amount of tax by 23 per cent.
He says he likes the fact the provincial government will offer taxpayers an option to pay monthly, rather than in one lump sum.
Even though many New Brunswickers will end up paying more in property taxes, it won't improve the provinces bottom line, according to Lacey.
"Because most of the tax bills will be to the municipal government not to provincial but look, the minister was under some real pressure here," Lacey said.
"Whenever you play with the property tax system, there's going to be winners and losers so he's really — to be fair — in a can't-win situation."
He also says spike protection, which will prevent assessments from jumping by more than 10 per cent, is a good thing.