Comment 36741

By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted January 03, 2010 at 16:19:08

JonC >> Not to blow your mind, but the primary value of the vast majority of properties in Hamilton is land and thus large lots are penalized.

Too bad, because the tax system we use today is even more unfair.

Currently, if a person invests money to make their property more valuable, both for themselves and their neighbourhood, the city rewards this effort by increasing their tax bill. Even though the underlying property requires no more government services, things such as police, fire, recreation, transit, roads, the city still wants more money, simply because the property now has a higher market value.

In contrast, the person who doesn't make the effort to increase the value of their home and surrounding neighbourhood, but rather allows his property to get run down, ends up paying less in taxes. Furthermore, when you throw in the fact that the lazy owner's property still requires the same amount of government services as it did prior to getting run down, the lazy guy is actually being rewarded for making his/her part of the city look worse.

By moving to a tax system based on the size of the property, rather than the value of the property, tax bills would only increase if the amount of government services consumed increased. Therefore, if a property owner built a 20 storey building on his/her land, the tax bill would increase to reflect the added services that new residents would require.

However, if a property owner simply added quality improvements to the land, things that made the property and the neighbourhood more valuable, the tax bill would only go up by the average tax increase. Under this new tax system, people that invest their time and money to make the city a better place to live, but in a way that doesn't lead to higher costs, would not be punished by having to pay higher taxes.

>> switching to a straight square footage system would do is penalize those living in currently less desirable neighbourhoods

No it wouldn't. Since the new system would be based on the quantity of government services consumed, it would simply ask those areas to pay their fair share. Furthermore, if a person fixed up his/her home, they would be rewarded by being able to keep the full value of that increase and not have it taxed away from them. Overall, this new tax structure would simply ask people to pay the true cost of the services they were using.

Most importantly, this new tax system would have profound effects on shaping the quality of neighbourhoods city wide. The result would be far fewer homes built in sprawling fashion with low population densities and more higher quality homes built in the way they used to be before the car revolution. As for how this would affect your pet causes like the LRT, it would make them a hell of a lot more cost effective, something I thought you would be happy about.

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