Toronto property tax is one of the lowest in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), but that means there’s room for major hikes, according to a new study by Ryerson University.
The report analyzed unpublished data from the 2016 census. It concluded that even if Toronto raised property taxes by as much as 20 per cent, the city’s average would still remain in the “middle of the range” imposed by 28 other municipalities.
Toronto had the sixth lowest average property tax at $4,027 in 2016, according to the report, published Thursday. That put the city just ahead of Burlington, Hamilton, Georgina, New Tecumseth, and Milton.
Milton had the lowest average property tax with a bill of $3,402, while King Township averaged nearly $7,000.
Toronto ranked second last when it came to average property tax burden, which is the taxes as a percentage of household income. For Torontonians, that average is 2.74 per cent, 21 per cent below the median in the GTHA.
Toronto’s tax burden, however, might be higher than the data reveals, the Globe and Mail noted, as the study doesn’t indicate certain factors that could cause a fluctuation, including payment for garbage collection. Despite this, the Globe reported Toronto’s tax burden would still remain remarkably low even if the study took these factors into consideration.
Although a property tax hike will undoubtedly upset Torontonians, economist Frank Clayton, who conducted the study, noted that it’s necessary if residents want to see improved infrastructure.
“If you want the public sector services, you have to pay for them,” Clayton told the Toronto Star.
Coun. Gord Perks, who previously advocated for higher property taxes, agrees with Clayton and the Ryerson study.
“This report mostly confirms what many of us have been saying for a long time,” Perks said, according to CBC. “The property tax burden Torontonians carry is well below what people in the Greater Toronto Area carry, and there’s room if we want to invest in the city to make it a better place to live.”
Despite this, the report contradicts Mayor John Tory’s vow to keep property taxes at or below the rate of inflation. City council is set to debate Tory’s proposed budget next week.