NS abolishes property tax for non-residents; right of transfer act to remain

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The Nova Scotia government has abandoned a plan to raise taxes for non-resident homeowners.

Premier Tim Houston made the announcement Thursday afternoon.

“My intention all along, and our government’s intentions all along, was to improve housing affordability,” he said. “It was never meant to be at odds with our core value, our government’s core value, our province’s core value, which is to be more welcoming.

“So today I’m going to put my personal pride aside. This policy was an effort to find a solution. It has always been conceived as a tool to support housing. the job is done, you are looking for another tool. I am committed to finding a tool to make home affordability — especially for first-time home buyers — a reality in this province.

The government announced the new taxes for non-resident homeowners in the spring budget. The changes included a tax of $2 per $100 of assessed value for non-residents, as well as a 5% transfer tax on deeds for non-residents buying property.

News of the new taxes drew criticism from seasonal residents and municipalities.

On Tuesday, Houston announced changes that would vary the amount of property tax based on property value.

But on Thursday, he announced that the non-resident property tax would be scrapped altogether.

The non-resident deed transfer tax, however, will proceed as planned.

There are approximately 28,000 non-resident properties in Nova Scotia, depending on the province.

  • 34% valued at less than $150,000
  • 12% valued between $150,000 and $250,000
  • 12% appraised over $250,000
  • 42% vacant residential land

Risk of “reputational damage”

Houston said the “adjustments” he announced on Tuesday were intended to make the policy fairer, but over time he realized there was a broader risk.

“I believe the risk of damage to Nova Scotia’s reputation is becoming more and more real, and that’s something I’m not prepared to accept. So we will find another way to solve the housing problem.

Liberal finance critic Kelly Regan accused the government of failing to thoroughly study the plan to tax non-resident homeowners.

“They didn’t do their homework when they created this tax and they didn’t consult, and now they’ve found out you can’t do politics on the back of an envelope.”

Regan said the province’s reputation has already been damaged and she hopes businesses that were planning to cut operations in Nova Scotia can reverse those plans.

New Democrat MP Claudia Chender echoed concerns that the government acted too hastily.

“I think it’s part of a pattern where the prime minister acts quickly without enough information and then has to go back and clean up after himself,” she said. “If you want to jump before you look, how about building off-market housing and getting people in there? You know, there’s a lot of places that need urgent action where we just don’t see it. not.”

Houston dismissed suggestions that the government embarked on the policy without enough data or consideration of its potential effects. He said that, like all policies, they were subject to a great deal of analysis.

“Sometimes it’s hard to anticipate where something might go in the public’s mind,” Houston said. “But we didn’t anticipate that it would change the way people see Nova Scotia.”

‘Not worth it’

Finance Minister Allan MacMaster said the government had estimated the property tax would bring in about $65 million a year, about half of one per cent of the overall budget.

“Sixty-five million is no small amount of money. If there’s a way to find the 65 million elsewhere, we’ll do it.”

MacMaster said part of the purpose of the tax is to encourage people who own property they don’t use to put it on the market and thus make it accessible to Nova Scotians who live in the province all the year. But he said the reaction from seasonal residents and people who made investments outweighed that goal.

“Ultimately, it became clear…that it wasn’t worth using this tool to help Nova Scotians find housing.

Investor reaction

Glynn Williams, owner of the Authentic Seacoast Company, said the tax led him to consider taking stakes in the township of Guysborough, where he has owned property for more than 30 years.

Glynn Williams, owner of Authentic Seacoast Company, said the tax led him to consider taking stakes in the township of Guysborough, where he has owned property for more than 30 years. (Radio Canada)

The Ontario-based commercial operator spoke to CBC Radio maritime noon Thursday before the government announced it was scrapping the tax.

“The housing crisis will be solved by building more homes, and to do that we need to attract investors, not scare them away,” Williams said.

Later, he hailed the decision.

“It is wonderful in a democracy that our elected officials listen to citizens when they are able to express their discomfort with a change in policy. So I am delighted that the Prime Minister and his government listened to us “, did he declare. News at Six.

“I was concerned that the business climate had fundamentally changed. … We will review projects that we have canceled or suspended and hopefully move forward.”

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