Government Real Estate Arithmetic: Failing to Calculate The Real Cost of Property Transfer Tax increases

Blog by Arnold Shuchat | June 25th, 2019

The latest numbers for the Provincial Government Property Transfer Tax receipts only reveal the 2018 numbers on the Minister of Finance website.  For that year, PTT equaled about 2.115% of the fair market value of the transactions which totalled some $81 billion.  I have heard mumblings that the government is down some $400 Mill in in PTT receipts for this year.  I have also read a study that for every realestate transaction that takes place $0.27 out of every $1 of completion value is the yield in economic spinoff benefits for the economy.

Given that we are now missing some $400 mill of PTT, at 2.1% that number also represents about $5.1 billion in lost economic benefits, from which the provincial government will not derive income tax receipts.  I have also heard the number of $90 billion being the amount bandied around as the estimate of lost real estate value out of the taxpayers' real estate holdings.

So how are we winning here?  I have not seen renewed enthusiasm on the low end of the market with the newer, lower real estate prices.  Could it be that the economic damage from a loss in confidence has impacted the finances of those who this great tax plan was designed to assist?  No doubt, the $400 mill, plus the lost revenues from now obsolete economic spinoffs from real estate will have to be made up somewhere else. No doubt it will be from the same group who lost the $90 billion.

Are you starting to see a pattern here? The wealthy lose, the middle class loses, and the government also loses.