Coyne has an excellent column today on property taxes. The time has come for property tax reform. Or has it?
Real reform of municipal finance would start by charging user fees wherever it was feasible to do so. A beneficial side effect of this would be to open up possibilities for privatization and contracting out: if it is possible to make users pay for a given service, it is ipso facto not a “public good.”
Some services, of course, like fire and police protection, cannot be financed in this way. At any other level of government, these would be paid for out of income or (better yet) sales taxes -- taxes that, whatever their faults, are manifestly simpler, fairer and more efficient than the property tax. So why shouldn’t cities do likewise?
A combination of user fees and a municipal sales tax -- or a dedicated share of the provincial sales tax -- in exchange for an end to the property tax, and with it decades of confusion, unfairness and acrimony: If the Liberals aren’t willing to run on this, perhaps the opposition might.