Montreal wants to postpone tax increases for the most precarious

Montréal wants to postpone tax increases for the most precarious

Mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante

All Montreal elected officials want to postpone tax increases for the poorest homeowners. For this, the metropolis is asking for help from Quebec. A motion was unanimously adopted to this effect by Montreal City Council on Tuesday.

Property taxes for Montreal homeowners have increased by an average of 4.1% – the exact amount depends on the district – in 2023. A historically high increase in a context of inflation.

The opposition, Ensemble Montréal, considers this tax burden too heavy. She had tabled a motion to defer tax hikes for low-income seniors until their properties are sold. In an amendment by Projet Montréal, supported by Ensemble Montréal, the administration extends the deferral to all people with low incomes.

The mayor of Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles, Caroline Bourgeois (Project Montreal), defended the majority amendment on council, but explained that it’s had to be “absolutely” Québec’s assistance in implementing this measure.

During the city council meeting, the leader of the opposition, Aref Salem, recalled that deferring taxes was part of Valérie Plante's promises. Additionally, he argued that a tax increase was hard to absorb for “someone who bought a cheap bungalow 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago.”

On the side of the administration, Ms. Bourgeois specified that this file “was very dear to her as well as to [the president of the executive council] Dominique Ollivier”. She called this initiative extremely important and affirmed that it follows the line of the administration, which has already relieved the elderly by offering them free public transit.

This measure would thus put a brake on the rise in taxes – if Quebec supports it – for the most precarious households for a few years. Owner households are four times less likely than renter households to be in a low-income situation.

According to the latest data, in 2015, 10% of Montreal homeowners were below the low income threshold – the threshold that would make it possible to benefit from this tax deferral. On the other hand, in 2021, 18% of owner households declared spending more than 30% of their income on housing costs.

It should be noted that many rental properties are concentrated in the hands of a single owner. Thus, if 10% of owner households do not pay this tax increase, this does not mean that 10% of Montreal properties will benefit from this tax deferral.

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