Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

New Toronto tax on cars, motorbikes rolls out

with 2 comments

Globe and Mail

As of today, a new city tax takes effect for Toronto residents who own or lease a car or motorbike.

The charge of $60 a year for a car and $30 for a motorbike or moped will be added to the bill when residents apply to the province to renew their vehicle plates. Those who live outside the city do not pay the fee.

The new tax has flown under the radar, …

Now how does that happen? The new Toronto fee is only slightly less than the $75 vehicle levy that was proposed by the former GVTA and was swatted down by the Province (Ujjal Dosanjh actually) after a much furore and fuss. Both the GVTA and the GVRD approved it and they were elected local politicians. Ujjal was dead in the water anyway and a gesture like that did nothign whatever to reveive the sagging NDP support.

Maybe attention was diverted by the property transfer tax. Cities in BC can’t have that because the province got there first, and a worse tax is hard to imagine. But then housing affrdability here has only ever got token acknowledgement. No-one has actually done anything about it.  Or maybe it is becuase it goes to general city funds not directly to the TTC – though both desperately need more money.

Note also it is not a congestion tax. It is based on owenership not use, and of course all those commuters into Toronto frm the 905 area won’t be paying it. So it is not even a very defensible tax in terms of dealing with a problem.

And of course no-one can talk about a tax without calling it  “just a cash grab” as though public spending on essential services could somehow happen without taxes.

I suspect that it “flew under the radar” becuase the news rooms decided it was not worth spending any space or time on. There are not many major public concerns that are treated this way – but some get much more attention than others. Tolls on the Golden Ears and the Port Mann do not get much attention – but the Patullo may be different. We will even dig in to our own pockets for cash for kids (hospital) – or MRIs. These cannot apparently be bought out of taxes but we will cheerfully make tax deductible donations for them. That is not a cash grab, apparently. But is is also very good for the image of billionaire Liberal funders and media conglomerates.

Have you had enough yet?

Written by Stephen Rees

September 1, 2008 at 9:48 am

Posted in Transportation

2 Responses

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  1. Hi Stephen

    This didn’t really fly under the radar – it’s just there was about 12 months between the time the tax passed and the time it came into force.

    Flash back to two years ago, when the Province of Ontario passed a new “City of Toronto Act”, giving the city unique taxing powers. The rationale was that since Toronto was much larger than any other centre in Ontario, a one-size-fits-all municipal act wasn’t going to work.

    In about July of 2007, the city proposed to use their powers and pass a land transfer tax and a vehicle registration tax. A motion was made to defer the decision to October (after the provincial election) in hopes that the province would offer a better deal. This passed by one vote. The mayor was very upset at this, as he felt the province would not take them seriously if they didn’t use the powers they already received. In order to cover a potential budget shortfall that not passing the taxes would have caused, the mayor ordered libraries and community centres to close on certain weekdays to save money.

    This enraged some members of council, but the mayor stood his ground and won. The new taxes were passed in September.

    Interestingly enough, the October election ending up being about a single issue when the opposition conservatives proposed to fund religious schools in Ontario. They were destroyed at the polls, the liberals won a second majority and municipal affairs never made it on the agenda.

    Hope this offers some back-story to these new taxes.

    Andrae Griffith

    September 1, 2008 at 12:12 pm

  2. This tax is ubiquitous in Japan. Although I don’t know the rates for motorbikes, “light” cars (660cc and below) have a municipal tax rate of about $75, and I believe regular cars and trucks (660cc and up) cost around $400 and up.


    September 1, 2008 at 8:54 pm

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