It’s election time. New Brunswick is awash in signs. One in front of large apartment buildings in Moncton, and probably elsewhere in the province, caught my eye: “Axe the Double Tenant Tax.” Allegedly, tenants are paying double tax. The question is on what and since when do renters pay tax on their apartment. I checked the website address for an answer and ah ha! The signs do not belong to the renters but to the New Brunswick Association of Apartment Owners.
These private owners, most of them private corporations making profits, want to pay less tax. They raise the rents when the minimum wage, the welfare rates or fuel costs go up. Some of them receive hundreds of thousands of dollars from the federal and provincial governments for subsidized housing. Now on top of that they are using their tenants during an election campaign to convince politicians they should pay less tax. Shame on them.
One of their arguments is that the property tax system is unfair and has a serious impact on New Brunswick’s economy. They say those living in poverty can’t afford housing, it impedes the province ability to attract residents and investment in rental accommodation. Looking at the ever increasing apartment buildings going up in Moncton in the last ten years, their arguments do not hold water.
If the tax was cut, they would receive a reduction of $62 million dollars, money which could have been spent on public services like healthcare and education.
What is needed in this province and what the next government should introduce is effective rent control legislation to protect renters, not fewer taxes for apartment owners.
Jean-Claude Basque is a social activist in New Brunswick.