Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Toronto City Hall eyes a tax on a tax on a tax

TORONTO - The Roman Empire fell because of ridiculous taxes, not rampaging barbarians.

In fact, regular Romans welcomed invasion by Goths, Huns, Franks and Visigoths as relief from hordes of absurd taxes.

I wonder if Attila the Hun is still available. We could use him here in Hogtown.

The gladiatorial circus we call City Hall is howling for more and more blood, our blood, and dreaming up novel ways to suck it from us.

On Tuesday, councillors on the budget committee approved a gobsmacking new fee. It was moved by Scarborough’s Gary Crawford, the budget chief, who usually has more sense.

The bright idea: Charge us $75 to cover administration and processing costs on the windfall that City Hall rakes in when you buy your home.

By windfall, I mean $15,775 on the average Toronto detached house, which is worth a whopping $1 million these days.

From this Municipal Land Transfer Tax (MLTT), our civic leaders rake in a whopping $500 million, yes, half a BILLION, each year, close to 5% of their total take.

Nutty old Emperor Nero would be proud. It’s easy booty — especially in a housing boom.

The riches have tripled since then-emperor David Miller foisted it on us in 2006.

Yet it’s still not enough for these guys.

So, councillors figure, what the hell? Another 75 bucks. Pffft! No one’ll notice and they’ll add another $5 million to their yearly pile.

What utter Gaul, as the Romans used to say.

A $75 processing fee on the easiest, sleaziest theft ever perpetrated on your pocket?!

It’s like billing a condemned man for shipping and handling the noose.

City Hall is screwing us — and charging for the wine and roses.

Worse, as any Toronto home buyer knows, it’s only half the horror story. The province also charges a land transfer tax, about $16,000 on that same house. The grand total: Nearly $32,000.

Imagine. For the privilege of buying a $1-million shack you get to throw $32,000 at two of the most wasteful governments since Emperor Caligula.

Toronto is the only city in Ontario that double dips on land transfers. Queen’s Park considered letting other burgs do it, but backed off in fear the peasants would revolt.

Don’t bet against the Wynne Liberals trying again.

Our keen Kathleen vows to babysit us from birth to retirement. Meanwhile, our city fathers never met a special interest group they didn’t fund. Guess who pays.

Our illustrious leaders should heed history.

Same thing happened in Rome. The middle class got so pissed off at the tax burden, they turned to the black market. Or they offered themselves up as slaves, since slaves don’t pay taxes, though if we had any in Toronto you can bet there’d be a Municipal Slave Transfer Tax.

Meanwhile, Rome grew fat with bureaucracies, just like ours, and her desperate rulers, just like ours, cast about for revenue tools. You could even pay in chickens or wheat. Sales tax jumped to 4%. (Wait, isn’t ours 13%?)

It didn’t work. There were only so many pigs and cows to levy, only so many vomatoriums to tax.

Rome fell.

C’mon down, Attila.

The new Municipal Land Transfer Tax Transaction Administration Fee now goes to full city council for approval. Crawford’s office tells me the province also adds a $62.85 admin charge to its transfer tax.

Do two wrongs equal a right? No, they equal $137.85 of your sweat-stained money.

Did I mention, the $75 does not include HST?

Lovely. They fiddle while we pay ...

... a tax on a tax on a tax.
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