To get good insightful answers, how the question is framed matters. I missed an opportunity on Thursday
In fact, renters are paying 2.7 times the property tax rate of residential homes in Hamilton. Renters are also providing a greater tax rate per acre than single detached homes.
As long as renters do not vote in large numbers during municipal elections, this imbalance will not be addressed.
In New York City, two renters are suing the City saying NYC’s property tax imbalance is a violation of civil rights legislation the Fair Housing Act – because renters are more likely to be of racial minority.
There is no similar legislative venue in Ontario.
Nonetheless, the discussion this week on New York City’s public radio station WYNC (embedded above) is an interesting listen for anyone with an interest in the issue.
Is having a higher property tax rate for rental apartment building a form of discrimination? Yes, by its nature of being different it is.
The real question is if its an acceptable form of discrimination?
A good point made by WNYC Jessica Gould notes that commercial properties are taxed at a higher rate, and rental apartment buildings are revenue generators commercial enterprises for their owners.
No matter your stance on the issue, I can’t see it changing in Hamilton – its political suicide to try balancing property tax rates when it will create increases for single-family homes.
There is only one method to correct this imbalance – improving Hamilton’s tax assessment by increasing density and slowly using this improved revenue flow to correct the inequity.