With big-time budget problems, Toronto can’t afford another big-time tax giveaway (imagine that)

With big-time budget problems, Toronto can’t afford another big-time tax giveaway (imagine that)

Apparently, the city’s budget chief has a new friend (Image: Ken Teegardin) 

In his mayoral campaign, Rob Ford promised that he would scrap both the vehicle registration tax and the land transfer tax, those hated symbols of David Miller’s insistence that the city needs to, you know, pay for stuff. Ford may have successfully jettisoned the car tax, but it looks like getting rid of the LTT won’t be quite as easy. According to Toronto budget chief Mike Del Grande, the city is in a serious fiscal mess and right now it simply can’t afford to the ditch the tax, which generates roughly $300 million a year.

From the Globe and Mail:

“I personally don’t think it’s practical this year, that’s my best recommendation to the administration,” Mr. Del Grande said. “The mayor has said he would like to see that tax removed. Although a promise may be made in good faith, it’s a challenge to keep it not knowing exactly what you’re faced with…

“These people, I’ve said over and over again, a lot of councillors as well as people in Toronto still do not get it,” he said of those who suggest that the city’s financial position isn’t as dire as he has stated. “We’ve gotten ourselves into trouble. Somebody has to fix it. I’m prepared to fix it.”

Cutting the LTT at a later date will, no doubt, depend on the “Core Service Review” the city is currently conducting. If the city discovers that, hey, there’s as whole whack of other fat it can cut that people won’t miss, then maybe the LTT can be axed in 2013 (right in time for Ford to run for re-election, now that we think about it). On the other hand, as Ford’s critics have maintained, the vast majority of the city’s costs are non-negotiable and forced on it by the province. Unless that burden is lifted (paging Premier Hudak) it’s hard to imagine how Ford will create the fiscal room he needs to dump the LTT.

Don’t kill land transfer tax, budget chair advises [Toronto Star]
Toronto budget chief says land transfer tax should stay for now [Globe and Mail]
Land transfer tax must stay for now: budget chief [CBC]
City can’t afford land transfer tax cut, budget chief says [National Post]