Edmonton realtors push back against councillor's mansion tax idea

·2 min read
Coun. Michael Janz says he wants people who earn more to pay more, so it offsets taxes on less expensive properties. (Robson Fletcher/CBC - image credit)
Coun. Michael Janz says he wants people who earn more to pay more, so it offsets taxes on less expensive properties. (Robson Fletcher/CBC - image credit)

Realtors and Edmonton's real estate board are opposing a potential tax on luxury homes, after a city councillor asked the administration to look into such a tax last month.

In June, Ward papastew Coun. Michael Janz requested that the city administration examine how a mansion tax could be applied to property taxes and write a report on its findings.

Janz says he wants people who earn more to pay more, so it offsets taxes for owners of less expensive properties.

"How do we make sure that, when we're collecting services that go toward the good of all, that those who have a little bit more can contribute a little bit more," Janz told CBC News.

In Vancouver, city councillors recently voted down a motion to implement the progressive mansion tax, which would have seen homeowners paying an extra one per cent on homes worth over $5 million, and two per cent on those worth over $10 million.

When what the tax percentage and home price thresholds would be, Janz said the city administrations findings would allow him to determine those logistics.

"It may not be [based on] actual property value," Janz said. "It may be about the characteristics of the home; that somebody who has a gold toilet should pay more than somebody with a porcelain toilet."

Some realtors have openly opposed Janz's idea, suggesting it will drive Edmonton's top investors out of the city.

Marlene Pahl, a real estate agent with Royal LePage, has listings that would qualify for a mansion tax. She and her colleagues think such a tax "is just ridiculous," she told CBC News in an email.

"So-called mansions are already taxed to their value," Pahl said, adding that, long-term, a mansion tax could reduce the city's revenue.

Also, Edmonton has fewer mansions compared to other Canadian cities, such as Vancouver and Toronto, she said.

According to Janz, there are 4,000 homes in the city valued over $1 million.

Bradley Mitchell, CEO of the Alberta Real Estate Association, believes a mansion tax would be unfair to these particular homeowners.

"The concept is a bit strange," Mitchell said. "Property taxes are fair how they are. Just because you've been more successful doesn't mean that you should have to pay a higher rate."

Implementing an additional tax on more expensive homes, Janz argues, would help reduce the annual increases of property tax for other homeowners.

"We should be collecting more of that tax from those at the top," Janz said.

The inquiry should be completed by September, at which time Janz will present a motion to council, he said.

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