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Discontinuation of Property Tax Vacancy Rebate

On April 18, 2018, Northumberland County Council voted to discontinue the Vacant Unit Property Tax Rebate Program, which delivers tax rebates to owners of  vacant commercial and industrial properties. This was enacted in December 2018 under O. Reg. 491/18 amending O. Reg. 325/01 under the Municipal Act, 2001.

There will be no program offering for the 2018 tax year and beyond.

This decision follows an extensive review by local municipal staff of policy options for this program, as well as consideration of input from members of the public through an online survey and a Public Information Centre.



Background

Under the Vacant Unit Property Tax Rebate Program, building owners could apply for an annual property tax rebate of 35 per cent for vacant industrial space and 30 per cent for vacant commercial space. The Province originally established this program to compensate property owners for tax increases resulting from property tax reform in 1998. Since then, property assessment methods adopted by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC)—whose assessments form the basis for property taxation—have largely resolved this issue. In addition, this benefit is not available to other property classes such as residential or multi-residential properties, which may experience a similar form of vacancy from time-to-time.

Recouping the cost of program rebates results in increased property taxation to Northumberland’s other tax classes—primarily residential—with the combined upper-and lower-tier municipal impact totalling $269,208 in 2016. The cost and number of rebates by municipality is summarized below:

2016 Vacancy Rebates

Considering this, along with the concern that this program may discourage property development and hinder community/economic growth and development goals, local municipalities are evaluating opting out of – or phasing out – this program.

On March 21, 2018, we hosted a Public Information Centre to seek public feedback about this program. We also offered a survey for members of the public to provide their feedback.

Our staff compiled the results of the review with local municipalities, as well as public feedback through the survey and Public Information Centre, into a final recommendation to County Council.


Learn More

Vacancy Rebate Program: Quick Facts

Presentation from the Northumberland County Treasurer about the rebate program

Report to County council recommending the phase-out of the program

Property Tax Framework

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