By Connor Lynch
PETERBOROUGH — The province has introduced a tax discount for farmers with value-added operations like on-farm processing. But it’s up to each municipality to offer the tax break and suck up the lost revenue.
The provincial government promised in April that regulations to ease the tax burden on value-added operations were coming. Details on those regulations were released by the province on Nov. 14 in its fall economic update.
The government has offered municipalities the opportunity to introduce the new property tax changes. The first $50,000 of assessed value of a value-added operation like on-farm processing can be taxed at 25 per cent of the normal commercial or industrial rate that would apply. The other caveat is it only applies to facilities assessed at less than $1 million.
But the government hasn’t provided any incentive for municipalities to take a tax hit for their farmers.
Peterborough’s warden, Joe Taylor, said that “with a loss of taxation and no compensation for it, it will certainly be looked upon less favourably by municipalities. Certainly, it’s very generous of the province to be so generous with our money.” He added that he understands that the province is in a tight financial situation, but municipalities are as well. “At this point in time, it’s not something we’re looking at or considering,” he said.
President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, Lynn Dollin, told Farmers Forum that the AMO “appreciate(s) that municipal governments will have the flexibility to consider what makes sense for them.
“The province worked to make these voluntary tax measures balanced to support small farmers and processors, while managing the impact on local tax revenues,” Dollin said.