The Impact of Red Tape Cause by the Dower Act
Many provinces and municipalities in Canada have turned to the implementation of a Land Transfer Tax (Home Buyers’ Tax) as a source of revenue. British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador all have a provincial land transfer tax. Municipal land transfer taxes are in place in Toronto, Montreal and several Nova Scotia municipalities. Were a provincial or municipal Land Transfer Tax ever implemented in Alberta, it would:
What AREA Advocacy is Doing
While provincially there has not been an expressed interest in land transfer tax in Alberta, the power to generate additional revenues from taxation, along with the specific format those taxes would take, are common topics in sustainability discussions between municipalities and the provincial government. In 2016, the Service Alberta Minister confirmed in a letter to AREA that it is not planning to introduce a land transfer tax.Under Alberta’s Municipal Government Act, municipalities’ revenue sources are largely limited to property taxes and user fees, with the exception of some special levies to fund specific applications. Amendments were made to the Municipal Government Act (Bill 20) in spring 2015 and additional amendments related to taxation authority are expected to be reviewed in the fall 2015 legislature sitting. Changes within this Act could provide municipalities with the authority to implement new taxes, including a municipal land transfer tax. Alberta REALTORS® understand that predictable, sustainable revenue is necessary for large cities to provide necessary infrastructure for their constituents; in that vein, AREA Advocacy encourages the province to explore alternative tax levers for municipalities.In addition, the platform on which the government ran suggests the province will be continuing work with Edmonton and Calgary to ensure the city charter process is developed, which offers another potential opportunity for the introduction of land transfer taxes. REALTORS® are concerned that Edmonton and Calgary will request that the province provide additional municipal taxation authorities, including the ability to implement land transfer taxes, which could easily spread to other Alberta municipalities. AREA Advocacy is asking municipal politicians to support Alberta REALTORS® in protecting consumers by advocating against any future land transfer tax/fee proposals.
The IssueUnder Alberta’s Torrens System of land registration, the Government has custody of all original titles, documents and plans and has the legal responsibility for the validity and security of all registered land title information. The Government guarantees the accuracy of title and an Assurance Fund is available to anyone who suffers loss due to errors on title or fraudulent activities. Ensuring the integrity of the system’s data and the continued application of the Assurance Fund are the foremost concerns to Alberta REALTORS® as Service Alberta reviews methods for modernizing and improving the delivery of land titles and registry services.What AREA Advocacy is DoingAREA Advocacy is asking the government to move towards 24/7 access to Alberta's Land Titles System.
After reviewing the policy options proposed by Service Alberta and the ensuing stakeholder roundtable discussion, AREA supports the following:
AREA estimates that, in 2018, Calgarians and Edmontonians alone will pay nearly $3.2 million to management companies for property-related documents. That is $3.2 million for services condominium owners have already paid for in their monthly fees. This is unacceptable.
Most Albertans live in Calgary and Edmonton, where housing is deemed seriously and moderately unaffordable and where condominiums present an important, more economical alternative for homeownership. According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, the average price for a detached house in Calgary in January 2018 was $545,834, while the corresponding price for a unit within a high or low-rise condominium was $298,942. Furthermore, the annual household total income for condominium owners reported by Statistics Canada was more than $33,000 below that of other homeowners in 2011.
Charging fees for condominium documents adds unwarranted costs to condominium resale transactions and creates an unnecessary barrier to the mobility of middle-income Albertans. As such, AREA's position strongly supports removing fees for electronic copies of condo documents and setting appropriate maximum fees for printed copies and estoppel certificates, as a measure to protect Albertans from gratuitous charges. We encourage Service Alberta to make the recommended updates in the spirit of modernizing condominium legislation to better protect condominium owners.
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