Tax Reform: 4 case studies 

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photo Riley Smith

Steven Burns Market value of home: $443,700
Current city and provincial property tax: $5,409
City and provincial tax under “tax reform”: $3,112

When Burns, a retired Dalhousie philosophy professor, learned he was going to save $2,297 a year through “tax reform,” he was incensed, and asked to be included in this article. “If you have a higher income, you should pay more income tax. If you have more valuable property, you should pay more property tax,” he says plainly. “It's just the right thing to do. I don’t like this [proposal] at all.”

photo

Larry Hubley
Market value of home: $102,600
Current city and provincial property tax: $1,145
City and provincial tax under “tax reform”: $1,760

Hubley was working three jobs to provide for his family. Then his two-year-old son Spencer was diagnosed with leukemia; to have time to care for Spencer, and to qualify for financial assistance to pay for his drugs, Hubley had to quit his jobs and rely on social assistance, a decision that still causes him unease, even though he fell a year behind on his mortgage and nearly lost the house. After seven years, Spencer was declared cured, but the Hubleys are still reeling financially from the experience.

photo Riley Smith

Elwood and Joyce Marsman
Market value of home: $126,900
Current city and provincial property tax: $1,047
City and provincial tax under “tax reform”: $1,593

The Marsmans are retired. Elwood was born in Upper Hammonds Plains, worked for the Halifax Water Commission and moved back to the community 25 years ago. Joyce was a data entry clerk. Development in the area---including high-high end homes on Wright Lake and a retirement home going up just a half-kilometre out of town---is driving up their property assessments. Upper Hammonds Plains was founded by black Loyalists, and has been mostly ignored by government ever since; even though the community is a stone’s throw from the water filtration plant on Pockwock Lake, a water line wasn't constructed to the community until about 10 years ago, and residents complain the pipe doesn’t provide enough pressure. “We’ve been getting the shitty end of the stick ever since 1815,” says Elwood. “But we fooled them all---we're still here, and we’re fighting!”

photo Riley Smith

Bill and Helen Zebedee
Market value of home: $149,700
Current city and provincial property tax: $1,849
City and provincial tax under “tax reform”: $1,903

The Zebedees don’t own a car. Bill takes the bus to his job as a clerk with Capital Health, and Helen takes the bus to her job at Health Canada. Bill has a good understanding of the issues involved with property taxes, and faults the assessment cap system as being regressive. Still, when he learned of the details of the present proposal, he was flabbergasted. “I’m not excited about the idea that the higher the value [of a house], the lower the taxes,” he says.

Biggest tax Hike +$201

Jackie Barkhouse
District 8 (Woodside - Eastern Passage)
Market assessment of her house: $164,000
Current city taxes: $1,182
Taxes if “tax reform” passes: $1,383

Biggest tax cut: - $2,437

Sue Uteck
District 13 (Northwest Arm - South End)
Market assessment of her house: $464,300
Current city taxes: $3,753
Taxes if “tax reform” passes: $1,316

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photo Riley Smith

Steven Burns Market value of home: $443,700
Current city and provincial property tax: $5,409
City and provincial tax under “tax reform”: $3,112

When Burns, a retired Dalhousie philosophy professor, learned he was going to save $2,297 a year through “tax reform,” he was incensed, and asked to be included in this article. “If you have a higher income, you should pay more income tax. If you have more valuable property, you should pay more property tax,” he says plainly. “It's just the right thing to do. I don’t like this [proposal] at all.”

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