Chow tax hike on multi-million home sales would fund breakfast, transit

TORONTO – Olivia Chow says she’d hike taxes on Toronto’s priciest home sales to pay for transit and an expanded breakfast program for schoolchildren if she’s elected mayor.

In a Tuesday announcement, she said she’d raise the land transfer tax by one percentage point on homes sold for more than $2 million – an additional $20,000 for a $2-million sale.

“Progressive” voters in Toronto wouldn’t mind paying a little extra to help feed needy students, Chow said.

“This morning some of the kids will arrive in school maybe hungry and we want them to make sure that they can also have a meal. When you’re hungry, you can’t focus, you can’t learn very well,” she said.

Chow suggested the “more progressive” tax would help feed another 36,000 children while also funding a portion of a relief line connecting downtown to the inner suburbs and expanded bus service.

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“We will have funding to buy new buses, fix the old ones, build a new garage, so we can have 10 per cent increase in bus service,” she said. “We will also build that relief line.”

The tax increase to 3 per cent from 2 per cent would bring the total Toronto tax on a $2 million home sale to roughly $55,000. Coupled with the Ontario land transfer tax, Torontonians selling their homes would pay roughly $90,000 in taxes.

Chow figures at least 500 Toronto homes will be sold for more than $2 million, annually, bringing in an additional $20 million a year. But for those calculations to work, a significant number of those homes would have to sell for far more than $2 million: 500 homes sold for $2 million each would only generate an additional $10 million.

Mayor Rob Ford promised to eliminate the land transfer tax when he was running for mayor in 2010. He hasn’t, but pledged in January to phasing out the tax in his next term.

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