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LETTERS: Property tax cap not working for Nova Scotians

Homes are seen along the Northwest Arm in Halifax on Tuesday.
Homes are seen along the Northwest Arm in Halifax. - Tim Krochak

Cap system ill-adapted

Re: "Property tax cap favours Nova Scotia's wealthy." Brett Bundale's Nov. 6 article on the unintended consequences of the 2005 all-party solution to skyrocketing property assessments was well-intended, but focused on more tinkering with a 19th-century system rather than truly introducing a 21st-century solution for taxpayer contributions to pay for municipal services. 

The pre-cap framework taxed property based on market value but still created an unfair system because homeowners on the same street paid differently even though they received exactly the same service. The cap system delayed the pain but ripped the Band-Aid off when a property changed hands. The current property tax assessment system does not reflect ability to pay or demand on services. 

The Municipal Act currently allows municipal units to charge a per-property or unit system for municipal services, a rebate system for low-income earners and a minimum tax. Surely, we can level the tax burden in a modern economy rather than simply rely on the old adage, "We've always done it this way."  

The economy has changed, management systems have greatly improved, but municipal leadership cannot seem to make changes that have been allowed. The cap could be removed next year if the province eliminated the residential assessment base and municipal units were willing to use all the tools in the toolbox. This system would reflect ability to pay and end the storyline of very large homeowners getting a $15,000 reduction in municipal taxes. 

Wayne Fiander, Bedford

Appraisers need to get out more

The property tax cap on oceanfront land was put in place to prevent people in rural areas from losing their property due to the value increasing. This includes waterfront land and water view land. I know of one person who had a huge increase in their taxes because the trees were cut across the road.

If you live in a house worth $100,000 and someone builds a million-dollar house next door, your taxes go up. There is no comparison between a $20-million house on the Northwest Arm and one in Cumberland County, where the only service provided is garbage collection, where you're 40 km from a RCMP detachment, 20 km from a volunteer fire department and 25 km from a grocery store or an emergency department, if it is open. More than likely, it is not.

And finally, a lot of these properties are not inhabited full-time, but are owned by Americans or Europeans, who still benefit from a tax cap on these properties.

It's about time some of these so-called appraisers got off their butts, visited these properties, and took into account the income of these properties owners, instead of sitting in front of a computer screen and doing their assessments.

George LeFrank, Malagash Point

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