Lobbying by London City Hall to correct a tax inequity has paid dividends for businesses across Ontario, just in time to provide COVID-19 relief.
On Thursday, Finance Minister Rod Phillips released the 2020 Ontario Budget, which includes a significant tax reduction for businesses, including an estimated $21-million each year in London.
Recommended by the Mayor’s Economic Recovery Task Force, the reduction applies to the provincial business education tax.
“The vast majority of commercial and industrial properties in London will enjoy a 29.6 per cent reduction in 2020 business education tax levels, and a 10.5 per cent reduction in total 2020 property tax levels including both municipal and education,” states a release from London Mayor Ed Holder’s office.
“This will provide much-needed relief to hundreds of London businesses as they recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Holder added.
Until now, businesses in some parts of Ontario were charged a higher rate than businesses in other parts of Ontario.
For example, a restaurant in London would pay 1.25 per cent in provincial business education tax, while a restaurant in Toronto was charged 0.98 per cent.
London Councillor Josh Morgan says the announcement will impact London’s economy during and after the pandemic.
“Business owners just down the street will see a 10.5 per cent overall reduction in their property tax bill. That tax bill includes both property and education taxes, and that’s significant, that’s significant at a time when businesses need it. And that’s why city council has been advocating hard for this move.”
Gerry Pribil owns the Marienbad Restaurant and Chaucer’s Pub on Carling Street, he’s also on the board of the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association.
Pribil says the break will help some small businesses survive. For others, the relief offers another way to make the books balance during the pandemic.
“If you operated your own business out of the property you own, there was no rent relief or any other subsidy. So this will tremendously help us, if you are building owner and operate your business, you will be able to [take] advantage of these decreased property tax measures.”