By Connor Lynch
Two years since farm property assessments in Ontario skyrocketed, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture is making some headway in adjusting farm tax ratios.
But most municipalities are holding fast on their farm tax ratios.
This year was a critical one, said OFA president Keith Currie, for counties to get the OFA’s message on how to balance farm tax rates without shifting the tax burden to residential rate payers. OFA policy analysts went to municipalities across Ontario to share their data on how municipalities could adjust the farm tax ratio to keep tax rates proportionally the same.
But of 23 municipalities in Western Ontario contacted by Farmers Forum, 18 had either made no change or had a staff recommendation that there be no change. Two municipalities did not respond to phone calls.
Two municipalities did decide to lower their farm tax ratios, however. Brant and Lambton counties both had slight reductions to their ratios this year. Lambton’s was more significant, going from 25 per cent to 22.6 per cent. Brant County went from 25 per cent to 24 per cent.
One municipality, however, increased its farm tax ratio. Caledon, in Peel Region, raised its ratio slightly to maintain the same level of taxation, a spokesperson said.
MPAC farmland assessments that rolled out two years ago came as an unwelcome shock to many farmers. On average, farmland valuations across Ontario went up by 60 per cent. MPAC phases the assessments in over four years to soften the blow but by 2020 many farmers are looking at a significantly higher property tax bill.
A similar charge by the OFA last year was equally unsuccessful, with OFA president Keith Currie telling Farmers Forum last year that this year may be more promising, since municipalities aren’t hearing the OFA’s message for the first time.
Farm tax ratio
No change: Brampton, Bruce, Elgin, Essex, Halton, Huron, Middlesex, Waterloo
Recommended no change: Dufferin, Grey, Haldimand, Mississauga, Niagara,
Norfolk, Oxford, Simcoe, Wellington, York
Lowered tax rate: Brant, Lambton
Higher tax rate: Caledon
No answer: Hamilton, Perth