City Looking for Feedback on Vacant and Excess Land Discounts

Should the City of Guelph continue to offer discounts to land owners with vacant and excess commercial and industrial properties or phase them out? This is the very specific question that staff are looking for feedback on this very particular property tax issue.

From now until May 26, the City is asking for feedback on the vacant and excess land subclass tax rate discount. Those interested in taking part can visit the City website to fill out the survey.

“Our goal is to ensure fair and transparent property tax programs,” said Greg Bedard, supervisor of Property Tax for the City in a media release. “Recent changes from the Ontario government allow us to review and adjust tax programs to achieve a more equitable distribution of property taxes.”

So what’s the deal? As you may know, the City collects property taxes on residential, commercial and industrial properties in Guelph, but if a commercial or industrial property isn’t being used, or isn’t being used to its fullest, the property owner can, for the moment, apply for a discount to their bill. Presently, the City of Guelph has 229 properties that receive the 30 per cent tax rate discount, which comes to $925,000 in revenue that the City doesn’t receive.

For the City, there are three options: keep the current tax rate discounts, eliminate the discounts in 2020, or phase out the discounts over two years starting in 2020. Does the City have a preference? Well, the Region of Waterloo stop giving discounts in 2018, and Region of Halton will eliminate them after this year.

Direction on vacant and excess land subclass discounts will be brought to city council at a future meeting.

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