Hamilton homebuyers, take heart: you won't have to factor in a municipal land transfer tax when you purchase your dream house.
In fact, city councillors won't even agree to study the idea.
Ward 1 Coun. Aidan Johnson asked his fellow councillors to support a probe into the implications of creating the new tax, which would charge buyers a levy based on the sale price of their home. Homebuyers already pay a provincial land transfer tax.
While Johnson was only proposing to study the idea — not implement it — his motion didn't get far at Wednesday's audit, finance, and administration committee meeting. Johnson's motion failed 5-1, with the Ward 1 councillor casting the lone supporting vote.
Johnson argued that Hamilton could use the extra income from a potential land transfer tax to help ease the burden on municipal taxpayers. He pointed out that his constituents face the highest municipal tax rates in the city and could use a break.
"We, as a municipality, are woefully short on income," he said. "I'm looking for ways to reassure Ward Oners that there are realistic ways to prevent their property taxes from going up further."
But the move was heavily opposed by representatives from both the provincial and Hamilton-Burlington Realtors' Associations — many of whom attended Wednesday morning's meeting.
They argued that a municipal land transfer tax would render Hamilton housing stock even more unaffordable, while also cooling the red-hot real estate boom the city is currently enjoying.
"This is Hamilton's competitive edge — an edge that Hamilton stands to lose," said Ettore Cardarelli, chair of the government relations committee of the Ontario Real Estate Association.
Ultimately, councillors agreed with the realtors.
"I just don't believe that putting a barrier like this in place helps us," said Coun. Chad Collins.
Toronto is the only municipality in Ontario that charges a land transfer tax. It was expected to bring in about $350 million to city coffers in 2014.