Commentary

Scrap The Double Tax On 250,000 New Brunswick Tenants

Image: iStock.

Around 250,000 New Brunswickers rent the place they call home. That means 250,000 people in this province are paying the double property tax imposed on non-owner occupied residential buildings.

When apartment owners receive their property tax bills, they’re taxed municipally and then again by the provincial government. That double property tax represents the single largest expense for New Brunswick landlords, and it’s an expense that must be passed on to tenants. New Brunswick is the only province in Canada that charges a double property tax on non-owner-occupied residential buildings.

Consider the numbers: Property taxes for apartments in New Brunswick are nearly twice as high as those in the rest of the Maritimes, and more than 2.5 times higher than those in the rest of Canada. In New Brunswick, it takes more than two months rent just for a landlord to pay for property tax, compared to one month in other provinces.

The double tax is a tenant tax. It’s an unfair burden, a regressive, hidden tax, one that hurts nearly one-third of our population yet generates less than one percent of provincial government revenues. It’s a tax that punishes many of those who can afford it least, like seniors, students and young families.

It’s a tax that discourages investment in new apartments. If you can invest in any other province and not face a double tax, why would you invest in New Brunswick?

The double tenant tax needs to stop.

The New Brunswick Apartment Owners Association is calling on all political parties in this province to commit to eliminating the double tenant tax once and for all during the provincial election. We want to see this commitment in every party platform.

In the past, elected officials have refused to consider eliminating the double tenant tax, arguing that there was no guarantee that savings will be passed on to the consumer. We have a solution: If the government phases out the double tax over three years, landlords will commit to a three-year rent freeze. To guarantee it is applied by all landlords, we will ask the government to legislate the freeze – make it the law.

This rent freeze represents a savings of up to $1,800 for renters over a three-year period. That’s money directly back in the pockets of voters that they will inject back into the provincial economy. Phasing out the double tax will also encourage new investment from property developers, giving renters more choice.

The double tenant tax is not a partisan issue. No political party should want to support this regressive tax that punishes so many citizens. Eliminating the double tenant tax is good public policy.

We are encouraging all New Brunswickers to raise their voice. When a candidate from any political party comes to your door, ask them about the double tenant tax. Ask them why New Brunswick is the only province with such a heavy and punitive tax. Tell them it’s unfair and you would like to see it phased out.

You can visit www.stopdoubletax.ca to find out more about the double tenant tax, and you can send an email from the site to the leaders of New Brunswick’s political parties. If we work together, we can stop the double tenant tax.

Willy Scholten is the president of the New Brunswick Apartment Owners Association.