I am sharing the correspondence I received from Councillor Thompson and Councillor Minnan-Wong. Prior to the vote held on Monday October 22, 2007, I contacted the councillors to voice my opinion, to express my concerns and to ask where they stood on the issue. Councillor Thompson responded to my inquiries as follows:
The Toronto Land Transfer Tax
Thank you for your email concerning the new City of Toronto Land Transfer Tax and the Vehicle License tax. My position on these unfair taxes is clear: I opposed them and voted against them in Council.
It is my belief that the land transfer tax in particular was chosen as a quick fix, and not properly studied and evaluated prior to bringing it to Council. We do not know how great an impact it will have on real estate sales and business activity in the City, and we should not be rolling the dice in a knee jerk reaction to our current fiscal crisis.
I have attached a copy of my speech to Council on this issue for your information [Download michael_thompson_tax_speech.pdf]. It outlines why the land transfer tax is a bad tax, and points to what we should be doing to get our financial house in order.
If you would like to know how your Councillor voted on the new taxes, you can find this information on the Toronto Star website.
Thank you again for your interest in the issue, and for taking the time to express your views.
City Councillor, Scarborough Centre, Ward 37
Councillor Minnan-Wong replied as follows: Thank you for your email urging members of Council to vote against the Land Transfer Tax. Your correspondence, together with the thousands of other letters, emails and phone calls made a difference to our city and played an important role in shaping the opinions of City Council. While we weren't successful in winning the vote, a meaningful debate took place about the way in which our city should be run. The taxes originally proposed have been reduced and an independent review panel has been selected to look over the city's finances. These achievements could not have been accomplished without your support. I decided to take a leadership role on this important issue because the proposed Land Transfer Tax and Motor Vehicle Registration Tax are unjustified. Taxes are the inevitable cost of living in a large urban city such as Toronto. However, taxes must be a last resort, not a first strike weapon. Two things must be done before new taxes are contemplated. Firstly, the city must look at efficiencies and savings and live within its means. Simply put, until we run the city better and ensure our own financial house is in order, I cannot support asking the taxpayer for more money. Secondly, we must force the provincial government to address downloading in a more substantial and meaningful way. The provincial government must give the city the necessary resources it needs in order to succeed. I hope that you will continue to participate in local government so we can hold city government accountable and keep taxes down. Sincerely, Denzil Minnan-Wong
Rachel Loizos is an associate lawyer at Sotos LLP in Toronto. She practices in the area of real estate law. Email Rachel