People's Alliance calls on Torries to make property tax changes

The People's Alliance is continuing to call on the provincial government to make sweeping property tax changes that it says will help stimulate the province's economy.

According to a press release this morning, the party says its leader Kris Austin recently met with Finance Minister Ernie Steeves and recommended the changes begin with the elimination of the double property tax on non-owner-occupied properties.

The New Brunswick Real Estate Association says the double property tax, where properties occupied by someone other than the owner are taxed by the province and the municipality, is having a negative impact on construction in the province.

The People's Alliance says the double property tax is a problem when it comes to affordable housing for low-income earners and seniors, as well as those who are entering the housing market who are looking for apartments.

Austin says, "New Brunswick is struggling due to a lack of investment and economists have said eliminating the double tax on non-residential properties would allow construction companies to build more multi-unit dwellings and apartment buildings in the province."

The party says more property development in the province will bring badly needed jobs to those in the trades sector as well as providing badly needed apartments as the population continues to grow older.

According to the press release, the province uses a property tax base to provide equalization grants to communities throughout the province which has resulted in a system which relies on taxing municipalities more heavily to provide these equalization grants to rural areas where there is less growth.

Because of this, business property taxes in New Brunswick are higher than those in major urban centres in Canada.

Austin says business property taxes in the province are so high it has created a disincentive to growth across the province because entrepreneurs know they will be "literally taxed out of business."

He added municipalities should be allowed to oversee tax collection, which would them to define their spending responsibilities and incoming revenues.