ESQUIMALT – Businesses love to be taxed because they are rolling in cash and love to pay other people’s bills – said no business owner ever! Unfortunately, however, (with a few exceptions) the mindset that businesses can handle an ever-increasing tax burden appears to be the trend across BC municipalities. I applaud the article that Catherine Holt wrote for the TC; some of what I’m about to say comes from that article, but inspiration comes from talking to local business owners who are feeling a real pinch from skyrocketing taxes.
To me, it defies logic to disproportionately tax the very people that bring prosperity to a community. Did you know that there is a group of people in Greater Victoria that pay between 2.1 and 6 times the residential property tax rates? These are the people who hire local workers, provide a place for you to buy your beer and a place to chat over a coffee, sell you a hat or a pair of shoes, and provide a place to buy your groceries or go and see your doctor or mail a package to your aunt. This multiple of 2.1 to 6 times the residential tax-rate has been increasing annually, meaning as taxes go up, the business rise goes up even higher. It is also noteworthy that industry is often taxed at double or more of the regular business rates! Soon, we’ll also be paying for our municipality’s portion of the NDP payroll tax also – businesses at 2.1 to 6 times the residential rate on top of their own payroll tax! From what I understand, in our region, only Langford has an actual plan to bring their business multiplier down to 2.5. They are not the lowest, but they recognizing that creating an environment that will attract and retain business brings prosperity to their community. Other municipalities should take a page from their book.
There are a number of ways to keep the multiplier at reasonable levels, these include keeping a tight watch on spending within municipalities, looking for ways to streamline municipal operations, increasing residential tax-base with density, and increasing the number of businesses.
We strongly urge our municipalities to think carefully about the impact their taxes have on businesses. Business owners do think very carefully about their operating costs in order to decide whether they can survive in any given municipality. Having a plan in place to control tax rates can provide a competitive advantage for a municipality and help drive prosperity.
Chris Edly, CD P.Eng is President of the Esquimalt Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at email@example.com