Ontario’s 2020 Budget levels the playing field by reducing unfair property tax rates and proposes to give municipalities tools to target property tax relief to local small businesses
NEWS November 13, 2020
BRANTFORD — The Ontario government is giving municipalities the flexibility to provide property tax relief to small businesses. The province is also considering matching these reductions which would provide small businesses with municipal and provincial property relief totaling $385 million. This initiative is part of the 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover.
The move comes as part of a suite of supports for small businesses announced in Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover.
“Small businesses are the backbone of Ontario’s economy, but many have been suffering through the pandemic and struggling to stay on their feet,” said Premier Ford. “Our municipal partners came to us with an idea to provide more support for small businesses through property tax relief, and in our fall budget, we delivered. Our government is also helping small business owners by eliminating unfair taxes on jobs and lowering the Business Education Tax.”
Property taxes are one of the most unavoidable costs businesses face in Brantford and Brant. They must be paid, even when business is slow, as it has been for so many this year. In Ontario, there is a wide range of Business Education Tax rates across the province – despite promises made by governments over the last 25 years to fix this inequity. This creates an unfair challenge for businesses operating in communities where rates are higher.
The 2020 Budget also proposes to reduce property taxes on job creators and level the playing field by lowering high Business Education Tax (BET) rates for over 200,000 employers, or 94 per cent of all business properties in Ontario, starting January 1. This will create $450 million in immediate annual savings and represents a reduction of 30 per cent for many businesses currently subject to the highest BET rate in the province.
“Time and time again, we have heard that unfair property tax rates in some parts of the province are creating barriers to job creation and growth,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance. “We heard loud and clear that levelling the playing field and addressing unfair property tax rates is one of the most important things we can do to immediately support employers now and in the future.
Rates will be reduced to 0.88 per cent. For many employers, this represents a reduction of 30 per cent. In the County of Brant, it means industrial properties will save $575,000.00 and commercial properties will save $1,313,000.00.
In the City of Brantford the same reduction of 30% means industrial properties will save $1,284,000.00 and commercial properties will save $5,330,000.00 respectively.
“It was business leaders and municipal advocates like Mayor Kevin Davis and Councillor Cheryl Antoski to name a few, who were some of the most compelling voices that showcased the effects of unfair property taxes”, said Brantford-Brant MPP Will Bouma. “I look forward to working with local leaders to prioritize and address tax issues such as this that will benefit the entire community”.
The government is also proposing to end a tax on jobs for an additional 30,000 employers. Back in March, the government more than doubled the Employer Health Tax exemption to $1 million. Employers across Ontario have indicated that this measure helped them keep workers on the job during COVID-19.
“Correcting the unfair disparity in business education tax levels in cities across the province is certainly welcome news as it will provide much-needed financial assistance to hundreds of businesses in Brantford who are continuing to recover from the challenging impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic” said Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis. “Prior to this much-needed change, a restaurant in Brantford would pay 1.25% in provincial business education tax, while a restaurant in Toronto was charged 0.98%. I know I speak for all of the Mayor’s Economic Recovery Task Force members in saying how pleased we are that the Ford government is taking this action to help Brantford businesses in need.”
The Ontario government is also helping main street businesses stay open and stay safe by offering a grant of up to $1,000 for the costs of personal protective equipment (PPE), with applications for the $60-million Main Street Relief Grant becoming available online on November 16, 2020. Small businesses with two to nine employees in the retail, accommodations and food services, repair and maintenance, and personal and laundry services sectors can apply for this one-time grant. Eligible businesses, whether applying for the Main Street Relief Grant for PPE – or for property tax or energy rebates in affected regions – will be able to do it all through one application on a new online portal. For more information, please visit ontario.ca/smallbusiness.
“Ontario’s landmark Budget – the first delivered during a global pandemic – in part focuses on what matters most to small businesses and will help establish a solid foundation on which they can reliably recover and rebuild,” said Minister Sarkaria. “Partnering with municipalities to bring tax relief to our small businesses will strengthen our recovery and help our job creators weather this storm.”
Ontario’s Action Plan sets out a total of $45 billion in support over three years to make available the necessary health resources to continue protecting people, deliver critical programs and tax measures to support individuals, families and job creators impacted by the virus, and lay the groundwork for a robust long-term economic recovery for the province.
Ontario has also committed $300 million to provide eligible small businesses in modified Stage 2 public health restrictions, or, going forward, in areas categorized as Control or Lockdown to cover costs associated with property taxes and energy bills.
The province is also moving forward with introducing legislation to extend the temporary ban on commercial evictions for businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance, as part of Bill 229, the Protect, Support and Recover from COVID-19 Act (Budget Measures), 2020. If passed, the legislation would extend the ban on evictions for commercial tenants that would have been eligible for the CECRA for small businesses program.