Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: When it comes to property tax, it’s a question of leadership

Dear Editor:
I would like to reply to a letter in the October 17 issue of The Shoreline News.
The author does an excellent job of describing some of the principles behind property assessments. However, it appears to me that he has missed the context of the matter entirely.
Does anyone really care what a Crown Corporation (the Municipal Assessment Agency) thinks what their house is worth? What actually matters is how much money they will have to pay the Town each year.
Even if the purpose of the assessment process was to make the whole business “fair and equitable” that does not mean that the concept of Property “Tax” is even justified.
A legitimate tax must be applied to a revenue flow such as income, sales or trade or revenue generated by an asset – certainly not the value of the asset itself! Nothing in the Constitution Act permits a City or Town to “tax” anyone. Would they really demand a portion of a cash or stock market-based nest egg each year indefinitely?
Take the example of a senior living in the family homestead since before the Town even existed. Their sole equity is in the house and sole income is a subsistence federal pension. New more expensive houses in the area raise their taxes each year. The “uniform assessment” rule only makes their burden unfair, if justified at all.
The Town and the MAA wash each other’s hands clean. The MAA say they only assess, not tax. The Town says they only tax, not assess. Where then, is the leadership?
The Municipalities Act demands that the Town apply property tax, but also allows it to establish “classes” of properties with different mil rates.
This year, while designing its budget, the Town has an opportunity to initiate the beginning of the end of unjust municipal taxation. The Province decides whether a Town exists and even has a Mayor or Council, but they have no jurisdiction over leadership in a community. It is not about politics, it is a matter of who leads and who follows.
Peter Shapter, Topsail

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