CITY VIEW: Certainly, outrageous taxation can be death to enterprise

[attach]7730[/attach]It’s been said that the only certainties in life are taxes and death.

I don’t know much about death, but I can tell you a bit about taxes: You can’t escape them.

I live on the 18th floor of a building and paid a land transfer tax when I moved in, because the province and the city co-own the air. Seventeen storeys above ground there’s property tax because the city still owns the air.

But at least those taxes are based on my building being my building and being on the land on which it is. Recently we heard about some businesses that aren’t fortune enough to exist in a rational place.

The building on the southwest corner of Yonge and Roxborough streets in Summerhill had its estimated value shoot up by more than 450 percent from one valuation to the next. The building used to be about $3.5 million and now it’s worth more than $16 million because the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. is bound by provincial legislation to base assessments on the “highest
and best use” of the property.

Just by definition, that doesn’t mean the value is based on what is there, but on what could be there and what could be the most valuable thing there. Oh, and also the value of other places nearby.

The businesses at that Summerhill location are being told it’s not that the building they are in is actually worth $16 million, but that a building on the same site similar to other buildings nearby could be. And therefore, they will pay taxes based on that imagined property, not the one that actually exists and that they are in.

What if this happened with your house?

Maybe some of your neighbours have sold, and their houses have been torn down, with monster homes built in their wake. If your home was assessed based on highest and best use, your property would be valued the same as those homes, even though it’s much smaller and wouldn’t sell for that price. Then, of course, you would also be paying taxes at a rate similar to those new giant homes next door.

Plain and simple, this is wrong. Highest and best use as a means of valuating property is wrong. It defies all logic.

Look at that $30 shirt you’re wearing. If you shop at the Provincial Legislation Boutique, that same shirt will be $300 because some other shirts are.

Or maybe you’re in the mood for a restaurant. You should really try the Provincial Legislation Bistro, where everything costs as much as the most expensive thing on the menu.

Please. Stop the madness.

This is going to force small business owners out of their stores.

And we shouldn’t let taxes be the death of them.