The District of Muskoka announced today that it has received authorization from the Province for its lower-tier municipalities to eliminate the Vacant Unit Rebate, effective January 1, 2018.
The Vacant Unit Rebate program allows property owners who have vacancies in commercial and industrial buildings to apply for a tax rebate. In Muskoka, the program provided a 30 per cent reduction to the property taxes levied if the unit met eligibility criteria.
Huntsville and the other Muskoka lower-tier municipalities held public meetings and consultations late in 2017 regarding elimination of the rebate.
“Feedback from the business community and analysis from municipal staff determined that the vacant unit rebate program benefited relatively few property owners for a proportionately large cost and did not encourage steadfast occupancy of commercial and industrial buildings,” noted a District media release. “The rebates were effectively funded by the rest of the property tax base.”
The Ministry of Finance has amended O. Reg. 325/01: Tax Matters – Vacant Unit Rebate to exempt lower-tier municipalities in the District of Muskoka from the requirement to provide tax rebates for property with vacant portions for 2018 and subsequent taxation years.
In June 2017, Mayor Scott Aitchison and Councillor Brian Thompson also suggested that owners of vacant properties should be made to pay higher taxes. Read that story on Doppler here: Should property owners pay more tax if their buildings are empty?
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