Toronto has millions in untapped revenue for 2015 budget: study

January 19, 2015

TORONTO – The City of Toronto hasn't been using all of the tax room that it has at its disposal – it's sitting on more than $600 million in untapped potential revenue, says a study from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' Ontario office (CCPA-Ontario).

Just allowing Toronto property taxes to keep up with inflation and population growth would yield $200 million in additional annual revenue and a set of untapped tax options available under the City of Toronto Act could yield up to $440 million in additional annual revenue, according to the study.

"The mayor has said he will seek funding for transit and housing projects from the provincial and federal government, and that's a necessary step, but a cap-in-hand strategy is not the only option and these are not the only services deserving of extra funding," says the study's co-author, CCPA-Ontario Senior Economist Sheila Block. "To ask senior government for help requires leadership from council, too. It's time to consider leveraging the city's full menu of municipal tax options."

Among the study's key findings:

  • Previous council's property tax decisions cost the city, cumulatively, almost half a billion dollars over the past four years;
  • Just allowing property tax to keep up with inflation and population growth could yield an additional $200 million in revenue a year;
  • A five per cent entertainment tax on movies, live sports events, and concerts could raise $18 million a year;
  • A new tobacco tax could yield an additional $30 million a year;
  • A new alcoholic beverage tax could yield an extra $77 million a year;
  • A 10-cent road per km toll during peak hours that dropped to five cents during non-peak hours could raise an additional $78 million;
  • A flat tax on non-residential parking lots could raise $175 million a year;
  • A flat Vehicle Registration Tax could yield $66 million a year.

"Between the range of new revenue tools available and the possibility of allowing property tax to rise with inflation and population growth, Toronto has more tax room than it's exercising – and that's worth a significant amount of revenue that could be invested in public services," Block says.

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For more information please contact: Trish Hennessy, CCPA-Ontario Director: 416-525-4927.

Download the study, Toronto's Taxing Question: Options to Improve the City's Revenue Health, at