Battle to scrap the car tax heats up


Tax-cutting council, start your engines.

The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition is urging city councillors to “put the brakes on the car tax” when they meet this Thursday. Matthew McGuire, president of the coalition, issued an appeal to councillors Monday asking them to give Hogtown car owners a break by sending the “unfair tax” to the scrapheap.

“It is ultimately an unfair tax,” McGuire said. “It creates a disincentive to live in Toronto.”

Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee last week voted to end the tax introduced during former mayor David Miller’s last term. City staff estimated that killing the tax will cost the city $64 million in lost revenue, refunds and administrative costs next year.

Kevin Gaudet of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation encouraged council to “get ‘er done” on Thursday. “I don’t think there is any doubt this was an ill-conceived tax in the first place,” Gaudet said.

CAA South Central Ontario has also applauded the plan to repeal the tax that is “unfairly penalizing car owners who live in the City of Toronto.” Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said he’s sure there are enough council votes to kill the tax but predicted “it’s still going to be a fight.”

With a full agenda, including asking the province to make the TTC an essential service, Holyday said there are rumours councillors opposed to Mayor Rob Ford may push the meeting right to Dec. 24. “It would be ridiculous,” Holyday said, adding such a move would needlessly waste time.

Councillor Adam Vaughan dismissed the rumours Ford’s unofficial opposition would stretch out the meeting. “What does that achieve?” he asked. “Council is being asked to make a number of decisions and we’ll make those decisions … The votes are the votes and the decisions are the decisions.”

Vaughan — who has campaigned on keeping the car tax — said he would cut every tax he could if it didn’t change the services the city provides. “The question becomes do we have a structural surplus?” Vaughan said. “If we do, let’s cut taxes.” “If there is a tax to cut it’s property taxes. If we’re overtaxing, it’s the volatile tax you cut, not the stable one,” he added.

Councillor Mike Layton said he hasn’t decided 100% on what to do Thursday but he will likely vote to keep the tax. “I campaigned on a promise that I won’t make decisions on finances based on popularity,” Layton said. “I’m not going to blindly vote to eliminate a revenue source.”

Several councillors have lamented the lack of information about how the city will make up the revenue shortfall if they cut the tax.

About Josh Lieblein
Outreach Coordinator