The property tax, an “archaic” financing model, deplores Valérie Plante

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The property tax, an “archaïque” financing model, deplores Val”rie Plante

Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montreal, wants to boost the City's sources of revenue.

Monday was held the first Forum on Montreal taxation, where a hundred stakeholders met to find ideas to diversify the taxation of the City of Montreal, whose revenues currently depend almost exclusively on the tax property, an “archaic and disconnected” model, according to Mayor Valérie Plante.

If Montreal wants to achieve its objectives, particularly in terms of ecological transition and adaptation to climate change, the sinews of war is money, launched Valérie Plante in her closing speech at the Montreal Tax Forum.

But with the current tax model, Montreal's revenues are likely to be slim in the coming years. Why? Because the property tax tool for cities does not increase rapidly, explains Michel Leblanc, president and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal. Property values, although increasing, do not allow cities to raise more money.

What if the City decides to increase property taxes at the same rate than the land value, the most precarious citizens would pay the price directly, underlines Dominique Ollivier, president of the Executive Committee of the City of Montreal.

“When you raise the property tax too much, what does it do? So landlords pass it on to their tenants. So the tenants find themselves financing the land wealth of the owners. »

— Dominique Ollivier, President of the Executive Committee of the City of Montreal

All in a context where the City's responsibilities to citizens are constantly increasing . Responsibilities usually come with expenses. Hence the importance, according to Valérie Plante, of diversifying your sources of income.

Several possible solutions were discussed during the day on Monday, assures Dominique Ollivier.

First of all, the municipal actors – coming as much from the social, economic, industrial, civil society and elected officials – must stand together and speak with one voice in order to convince higher levels of government, provincial and federal, to grant Montreal specific funding for the roles it assumes as a metropolis.< /p>

Montreal, we play a leadership role on municipal taxation, but we also contribute to all the municipalities of Quebec, argues Ms. Ollivier. Issues are often experienced here in Montreal first, before dispersing elsewhere in the province. One can speak for example of the affordability crisis. We had a housing crisis here before, now it's all over the province.

We must certainly review or renegotiate certain government transfers, she adds, explaining that municipalities are increasingly assuming responsibilities that should fall to the provincial and the federal government.

“Is it normal, for example, that we use the property tax to promote the promotion of the language, the integration of immigrants or the fight against poverty? These are things that should come automatically in the form of transfers from other governments. »

— Dominique Ollivier, President of the Executive Committee of the City of Montreal

Currently, the economic momentum is benefiting the governments in Quebec and Ottawa, whose deficit levels are much lower than expected, adds Michel Leblanc. Meanwhile, cities do not see this impact of the economy in their revenues. We need to be able to benefit from economic momentum like the other two levels of government.

However, there are also proposals that have been discussed and for which the City of Montreal can act independently of other levels of government, especially the whole question of eco-taxation.

The most concrete example of eco-taxation presented during the Forum on Monday is that of the kilometer tax. However, Michel Leblanc wishes to emphasize that it is not a question of adding a tax, but rather of replacing another that is due to disappear.

There is talk of replacing a fuel tax, which will become less and less of an effective tool, with a kilometer tax that will take road use into account. We are not really here in an increase in the tax burden, we are just in an improvement of the adequacy of the tool with the new realities.

The idea of ​​water pricing for large non-residential users and waste management was also discussed.

“It's a user pays principle, says Michel Leblanc. When we want to encourage good behavior, this eco-taxation will create an incentive. »

— Michel Leblanc, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

I feel that there is still something behind this exercise of public relations that today we intended to make Montrealers accept a new tax, the leader of the official opposition at City Hall, Aref Salem is wary despite everything.

The Forum that took place was the first step in a project comprising three components, namely to create a consensus among Montreal stakeholders, to agree on what we want, explains Ms. Ollivier. It will then be necessary to analyze the finances of the City and finally proceed to the Summit for the taxation of tomorrow, which will take place in the spring of 2023.

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