Town delays deed transfer tax hike

Darrell Cole
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AMHERST - The town is moving forward with raising its deed transfer tax, but is delaying its implementation to give realtors and those purchasing property time to prepare.
"It only seems right to move the implementation date so that real estate companies and those purchasing property have some extra time to have everything in place," Coun. George Baker said in moving an amendment to the bylaw to extend the period to Aug. 1. "They will have time to close the deals they are already working on. This will give them extra days to have everything in place."
Under the original bylaw the implementation date would have been about two weeks after ratification, meaning anyone buying property after mid-July would have to pay 1.25 per cent of the value of the sale as opposed to the present 0.5 per cent.
For homebuyers part of the way through closing, it would have added hundreds of dollars to the purchase price and might have hindered some of those deals.
"The increase in the deed transfer tax is an important part of our financial package for the year, but since first reading a number of people have contacted me and other councillors pointing out the time between arriving at a deal and closing a deal," said Coun. Dale Fawthrop.
Part of the town's 2009-10 budget, the increase to the deed transfer tax was opposed by realtors who feared the measure could hurt home sales during a tough economic period.
Greg Doucette, who collected a number of signatures on an online and paper petition opposing the proposal, said the town is only putting off the measure instead of leaving the tax as is.
"I think they made a decision to satisfy the few people willing to speak up while totally ignoring all the information that was presented to them," he said. "They didn't consider the fairness or economic development issues, they just brushed them off. I'm disappointed, but I'm not surprised."
Doucette feels the town should have at least left the tax at 0.5 per cent, or followed the lead of other municipalities that don't have a deed transfer tax.
The town is implementing the tax increase to help cover its operating budget for the coming year that already saw a two-cent increase to residential and commercial property taxes to $1.67 per $100 assessment on residential properties and $4.31 per $100 assessment on commercial properties. The increase to the deed transfer tax is expected to generate about $150,000 in revenue.

Geographic location: AMHERST

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Recent comments

  • springhiller
    January 18, 2010 - 11:14

    springhill is already heading to be a ghost town

  • Billy
    January 18, 2010 - 11:06

    I hardly think a difference of $750 per every $100,000 spent is enough to deter someone from moving to Amherst. The town is trying to generate some operating cash; they will get it one way or another after all it's for our benefit. Why raise a big fuss over something that most of us will only experience once or twice if that, during your life in Amherst.

  • Don
    January 18, 2010 - 10:58

    Those people who voted for Mr. Small can now see what they are getting. As the saying goes, the people get the kind of government they deserve.

  • Colleen
    January 18, 2010 - 10:56

    For a look at land transfer tax across Canada go to:

    Interesting to note that Calgary and Edmonton do not have a land transfer tax and that is where many young Canadians are heading. Tax, Tax and more tax. It is time to cut municipal spending in other areas before raising taxes.

  • upfront costs!
    January 18, 2010 - 10:53

    @ Billy B - The $750 on $100,000 is upfront, however, while the $100,000 is deferred over many years... its just one more kick in the pants on top of all the other upfront costs that take forever to save up if you are a young, first-time buyer living off a wage of someone newly entering the local workforce/economy. Hence why people pick up and go where they can get more money quicker. But once the lure of that big paycheck is ingrained, good luck getting many of 'em to come back!! lol

    Deed transfer tax is the it target this year... very unfair as people who've purchased homes in the last 10-15 years, or perhaps even longer, will reap the benefits without paying nary a cent while living off the backs of their children and grand-children... the start down a slippery slope as our population continues to age dramatically!

  • DJ
    January 18, 2010 - 10:50

    Two points:

    1) I am pleased to hear that the Town Council is being responsible in terms of not rushing this increase through as it would have effected those people who had already signed agreements to buy property with a fixed closing date; and

    (2) Although increases in taxes are never popular - I disagree with Mr. Cook. This will not make Amherst a ghost town. Most municipalities have a deed transfer tax and many of them are greater than 0.5%.

  • Greg
    January 18, 2010 - 10:46

    DJ, while putting off the increase for a couple weeks will save a few people from having to pay the tax, it will still affect every other person who buys property here after Aug 1st. It still represents an unfair tax. Still creates a disadvantage when trying to bring people to the town. Many see this increase as OK because they think the alternative must be the increase of the property tax. What if I told you that we could reduce the average homeowners property tax, create a fair system, provide incentive for attracting potential new residents and not implement a deed tax?

    Council did not read the letter that was presented to them, and did not address any of the issues raised. They took the easy way out and appeased the few loudest voices.

  • Tim
    January 18, 2010 - 10:33

    And they wonder why all the young people around here end up moving away. If you have a young couple that is just starting out this is just one more financial hurdle for them to try to overcome. Way to go maybe next you can turn Amherst into a retirement town or possibly a ghost town because no one will be able to afford to by a house around here.