BRUCE COUNTY – Bruce County has joined a growing list of counties and municipalities that have decided against implementing the province’s small business property subclass tax option.
As was stated in a report by Edward Henley, director of corporate services, to members of the corporate services committee on Aug. 12, the option was introduced in the 2020 Ontario budget. It would allow municipalities to create an optional subclass for certain commercial and industrial properties and provide a lower tax rate.
Council had asked that Henley bring back additional information when the matter was discussed at previous meetings.
He presented options, noting that discounts to the small business property subclass would result in the taxes being increased for other groups, for example, residential and agriculture. He said survey results indicated “they (small business owners) want their taxes to go down but don’t want anyone else’s to go up.” That’s not how it works.
“This is not a tax break,” Henley said, “it is a tax shift.”
Among the issues with the option is how to define “small business.” The province did not include a definition but left that up to municipalities.
Another issue identified by Henley is the fact the property owner is the one who applies, but the tenant, not the business owner, would be the one who benefits.
In addition, several areas involving this legislation have yet to be determined.
Bruce County is part of a growing list of counties where the option won’t be implemented, including Perth, Huron, Grey and Wellington.
“It’s a completely unrealistic program,” said Bruce County Warden Janice Jackson, who commented on the amount of time already spent on it.
County Coun. Luke Charbonneau said, “It’s time to put an end to it.” He suggested forwarding a copy of Henley’s report to the province.
“If you want to help small business,” he said, “this is not the way to do it.”
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times