LETTER: Victoria must stop with the tax freebies

How do taxpayers feel about the City of Victoria giving away millions in freebies every year?

Re: Taxing time for politicians (Our View, July 2)

While a tax increase may have been held to a “mere 2.5 per cent” in the City of Victoria, the issue depends on what lofty heights taxes were in the first place. The fact is, they could be a lot lower.

How do taxpayers feel about the City of Victoria giving away millions in freebies every year?

Under provincial law the B.C. legislature, Government House and other properties are exempt from paying property taxes. In 2013 that was about $1.5 million, according to City of Victoria figures. There are also provincially owned park spaces and water lots that are exempt totaling $500,000 annually.

The clincher: we are the only provincial capital, next to St. John’s, Nfld., where the province does not provide grants in lieu to offset the loss of property taxes.

With the burden set to increase in 2014 with subsequent tax increases, the loss will only get worse.

Even the federal government has long recognized the need to compensate local municipalities for federal and Crown corporation offices, national parks and other buildings within their jurisdictions.

The Township of Esquimalt stands to receive $11 million in revenue from the federal Property in Lieu of Taxes program this year.

So what are bedeviled City of Victoria taxpayers to do?

Short of placing a lien on the legislature building itself, voters must demand equal tax treatment.

Stan Bartlett, Victoria

 

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