Tim Bousquet's recent editorial on Tax Reform ("Taxing problems," August 13) uses strong language but is short on substance and facts.
Regional council appointed seven citizens and six councillors from across the region to review the "foundations" of the property tax system and to conduct public consultations. Its meetings are public and extensive information is available at halifax.ca/taxreform.
Among its conclusions is that there is effectively no relationship between income and home values. Using 2001 and 2006 Statscan Census data for Halifax, it found R-Squareds of 27 percent and 22 percent (not 37 percent as quoted in the editorial). The editorial, however, fails to refer to any data or studies showing any relationship between income and home values. Neither the author nor anyone quoted called to ask questions or look at the statistics before commenting. It appears that the Tax Reform Committee has one of the few studies on this topic with credible data and analysis.
In the committee's dialogue with citizens, it is clear that the public wishes to have a service-based tax system while supporting families of modest incomes. The committee's proposal balances many competing objectives while, at the same time, providing additional support for low income homeowners. It has clearly advised council that this model "is only one of numerous approaches that council could take" and that there are many "variations and changes" that could be made.
The volunteers and councillors on the Tax Reform Committee take their responsibility seriously and are working to design a new tax system for all of HRM. Tax issues are emotional and can become overly complex. I urge citizens to read the various reports and information put out by the committee for themselves and provide their feedback directly to the committee.
—David Grace, Chairperson, HRM Tax Reform Committee