Vancouver Fair Tax Coalition

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Property Taxes

Vancouver Fair Tax Coalition (VFTC) Updates

JUN 2009 — The Vancouver Fair Tax Coalition (VFTC) has again successfully compelled city council to continue lowering business property taxes in 2009. As a result of the hard work by the VFTC, city council agreed last month to approve another 1% tax shift from non-residential properties to residential properties.

Savings for Vancouver businesses: In 2009, there will be a tax reduction of $155 for a business property valued at $783,000; Vancouver businesses will collectively save $5.52 million this year; Since 2006, Vancouver business owners have saved $25.5 million in property taxes overall.

The VFTC thanks all BIAs and their members for their generous support. Together, we can ensure the tax inequity between residential and business taxpayers is corrected, and that city hall spends taxpayer dollars wisely.

MAR 2009 — The Fair Tax Coalition attacks the driver of high taxes - city hall spending!

The city is about pass one of the highest budget increases ever, and at a time when every business person and resident in Vancouver is watching expenses and cutting back.

The Vancouver Fair Tax Coalition (VFTC), on behalf of Vancouver's employers, business people and residents is urging City Council to say NO to the staff-recommended increase.

The VFTC says the city cannot continue spending at its current rate and recommends no increase in Vancouver's operating budget for 2009.

"Tax increases over the years have gone beyond inflation and population growth. If there ever was a time for city hall to reduce its spending, this is it," says Ed des Roches, VFTC co-chair. "In the past 25 years, there have only been seven budgets where the property tax increase was less than four per cent."

In addition to not increasing Vancouver's 2009 operating budget, the VFTC is also asking for:

* Zero loss of city services
* Zero loss of quality of services

After years of generous property tax increases, the City of Vancouver has to tighten its financial belt, says the VFTC.

It is important for city council to show leadership as Vancouver's residents and employers share an uncertain future and difficult economic challenges.

Both large and small employers provide valuable jobs and pay half of the city's property taxes. "Everybody is struggling during the economic downturn and we expect city hall to live within its means, just like everyone else is doing," says des Roches.

"It will be employers in the private sector that will turn things around," says coalition co-chair Bob Laurie. "An increase in property taxes at this moment will slow that process down to a crawl. We are all in this together but it will be the employers that will lead the way out."

Des Roches points out that successive annual property tax increases indicate that either city hall is complacent about being efficient, or it has found efficiencies in its operating budget but failed to pass the savings on to taxpayers.

The Vancouver Fair Tax Coalition (VFTC), through its member associations, represents more than 43,000 local businesses and land owners. VFTC members are concerned about the high municipal property taxes they pay and the inequitable allocation of the tax burden between residential and commercial real estate.

DECEMBER 2008 UPDATE -- The municipal election is over, and the VTC and the Marpole BIA congratulate Mayor-elect Gregor Robertson and those successful candidates for City Council and Parks Board.

In response to a pre-election Vancouver Fair Tax Coalition survey, candidates from the Vancouver Non- Partisan Association (NPA) and Vision Vancouver said they all support the one per cent tax shift from the commercial to residential property tax base.

In a written statement, Vision explained: “Vision Vancouver is committed to a 1% tax shift every year of our mandate (three years).

Vision Vancouver's decision to support the tax shift is a welcome turnaround, as the voting record of its incumbent councillors - Heather Deal, George Chow, Tim Stevenson, and Raymond Louie - had previously voted against it the past
three years.

We will look forward to working with Mayor Robertson and the new City Council in continuing to ensure equitable taxation policies that support neighbourhood small businesses during these difficult times.

2007 UPDATE -- There is good news on the horizon for business owners.

The Property Tax Policy Review Commission’s report, presented to Vancouver city council on September 18, 2007 recognizes Vancouver’s current business property tax rate is unfair and unsustainable.

The following outlines the tax commission’s key recommendations and our position on the issue.

While the commission’s recommendations are a good starting point to, there is still a lot of work ahead to ensure a more fair and equitable tax distribution policy is implemented.

About the Property Tax Policy Review Commission

Vancouver city council formed the commission back in April 2006 in response to the business community’s concerns about the impacts of the city’s current property tax policy.

The commission was asked to recommend a long-term policy that will define and achieve a “fair tax” for commercial property taxpayers, as well as a strategy to enhance the stability and predictability of property taxes for individual properties in the face of sudden, year-over-year increases in market value.

Tax Commission's Recommendations

The key recommendations were as follows:

1. The tax share paid by the commercial sector should be reduced from its current level to 48 percent. (The current level is approximately 55 percent.)
2. The city should reduce the tax share borne by business by one percentage point per year in each of the next years until the 48 percent share is achieved.
3. Following implementation of the 48 per cent goal, the city should keep the tax share unchanged for a period of five years unless the differential between business taxes in Vancouver and business taxes in neighbouring municipalities widens considerably and/or the balance of business investment shifts substantially away from Vancouver to neighbouring jurisdictions.

The Vancouver Fair Tax Coalition's Response

* The coalition recognizes the tax commission’s efforts in producing the report and commends them for attempting to rectify an unfair and inequitable tax distribution for our city.
* The commission has acknowledged that business owners are excessively subsidizing residential services with an overly high business tax rate.
* We support any tax shifts from the commercial to residential class to address the unfairness of the current fixed tax distribution model but will continue to advocate for a permanent and sustainable tax distribution policy based on the proportional consumption of municipal services.

What's Ahead – Voice Your Opinion

The city will be holding three public consultations during October to December 2007. It’s important that business owners are heard and seen during this process.

Come out to voice your opinions and encourage other business colleagues to attend. We will keep you informed of the dates and locations.

Council will make a decision on the commission's recommendations by January 31, 2007.

In April 2007, council will make a decision about the 2008 tax distribution and set the final 2008 tax rates.

For more information or to view the full commission report, visit or

Taking Care of Business Fundraiser 2007

The Fair Tax Coalition has saved you, the business community, $.08/sq ft in 2006 and $.24 cents a square foot in 2007 in property taxes. So let’s celebrate!

Join your fellow businesses & Coalition members at the “Taking Care of Business”
fundraiser on Wednesday, September 12th at the Art Works gallery. Entry is $100 per person. There will be food, wine, live entertainment and a number of excellent auction items for you to bid on!

Come participate in the most enjoyable investment you can make in the future of YOUR business!

Taking Care of Business Fundraiser
Wednesday, September 12th - 5:00 PM
Art Works Gallery, 225 Smithe St., Vancouver
RSVP to or 604-734-3195.

Fair Tax Coalition successful in shifting tax burden - Summer 2006 Update

Thanks to the support and backing of all 17 Vancouver BIAs and their 43,000 members, the Vancouver Fair Tax Coalition has achieved an important victory at the City’s budget meeting in April.

City Council voted to lower the tax burden on business by one per cent in 2006 – more than what’s been done in the last five years. This means the business sector will save $4.7 million in property taxes this year.

For the first time, Council also voted to develop a long-term policy to achieve a “fair tax” for commercial taxpayers. The coalition will play an integral part in this process.

Although the Coalition had argued for more, council’s tax shift and commitment to achieve a “fair tax” in the long-term is a win. We believe that if we did not have a presence, we would not have received any shift at all.

In addition, city staff will now be required to incorporate economic impact statements in all major reports to council.

Most importantly, the coalition’s campaign has brought the property tax issue to the forefront both in the media and at city hall. Vancouver city council knows that this is a problem and that economic sustainability is vital for the future of our city. To that end, a meeting between City staff, politicians and coalition representatives will take place at the end of June to further the dialogue on this issue.

This was a successful first round. The Coalition remains committed to continuing our battle for fair taxes, and have already begun planning our next campaign.

As members of the coalition, the Marpole BIA sincerely thanks coalition organizers for their hard work, and our members for all your support. We worked together to raise awareness of the issue, get our messages out, and engage businesses and residents across the city.