In the run up to the 2010 Mayoral election, Rob Ford stirred controversy and conversation when he announced that, if elected, he would repeal the second Land Transfer Tax levied on buyers in the city of Toronto. The tax was first levied in February 2008, the tax adds blocks of tax ranging from 0.5% to 2% on a sliding scale to the value of the house in addition the Provincial Land Transfer Tax. Even before the tax was implemented, Toronto area Realtors were speaking out against it as an unfair burden that would further slow the Toronto market. They also observed that given the statistic that the average house purchase spins about $35,000 back into the economy in renovations and other services, and perhaps there might be a better time to implement such a tax.
Response to Ford’s campaign promise was immediate and predictably polar in nature, with the Toronto Real Estate Board enthusiastically embracing the idea, and many of Ford’s opponents lambasting the notion. Even before the election, Ford had had to back peddle somewhat, saying that the repeal would likely have to wait until after this fall’s Provincial Election, and was not likely to happen until 2012. A recent Ipsos-Reid poll shows that 75% of those polled support Ford’s promise, and expects the Toronto LTT to be repealed. A further 68% feel that he should go ahead with it despite any potential budget short fall. Clearly, this is an issue that will not go away quietly.
It is also clear that Rob Ford has a sense of what is expected. This past Friday, in a wide ranging interview on AM640, Ford acknowledged that the cities budget crisis is eased by the more than $200 million the tax brings in, but also pledged to phasing it out over the course of his term. What form this plan eventually takes remains to be seen,