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'Small businesses critical to provincial economy:' Area MPPs react to 2020 budget

Simcoe County MPPs say Ontario’s budget levels the playing field by reducing unfair property tax rates

Property taxes are one of the most unavoidable costs businesses face in Simcoe County. They must be paid, even when business is slow, as it has been for so many this year.

In Ontario, there is a wide range of Business Education Tax (BET) rates across the province - despite promises made by governments over the last 25 years to fix this inequity. This creates an unfair challenge for businesses operating in communities where rates are higher.

The 2020 Budget proposes to reduce property taxes on job creators and level the playing field by lowering high BET rates for over 200,000 employers, or 94 per cent of all business properties in Ontario, starting Jan. 1, 2021. This will create $450 million in immediate annual savings and represents a reduction of 30 per cent for many businesses currently subject to the highest BET rate in the province.

This initiative is part of a suite of supports for small businesses announced in the 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover. The Ontario government is also giving municipalities the flexibility to provide property tax relief to small businesses. The province will consider matching these reductions which would provide small businesses with municipal and provincial property tax relief totaling an additional $385 million.

“Repeatedly in our community, we have heard that unfair property tax rates are creating barriers to job creation and growth,” said Andrea Khanjin, MPP for Barrie—Innisfil. “Unfair property taxes hurt small business owners and this will provide immediate support for them now and in the future.”

Rates will be reduced to 0.88 per cent. For many employers, this represents a reduction of 30 per cent. In Barrie, Orillia and Simcoe County, this means industrial property owners will save approximately $3.6 million and commercial property owners will save approximately $6.7 million.

“We know that COVID-19 has been tremendously challenging for employers across our province, especially for those burdened by unfair property tax rates,” said Jill Dunlop, MPP for Simcoe North. “Our government is taking the action employers need, and deserve, so that they can continue to be a vital part of our strong economic recovery.”

The government is also proposing to end a tax on jobs for an additional 30,000 employers. Back in March, the government more than doubled the Employer Health Tax exemption to $1 million. Employers across Ontario have indicated that this measure helped them keep workers on the job during COVID-19.

“The time, risk, uncertainty and financial commitment that can come with owning and operating a small business is incredibly significant,” said Doug Downey, MPP for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte.

“These business owners are our friends, neighbours and family members. They provide jobs and stability for families across our communities, and we rely on them each and every day. This is one more way we can support and protect them during this crisis, and help our local municipal partners do the same. We know how critical small business success is to the recovery of Ontario’s economy, and this relief will go a long way in supporting them through recovery and into a successful future.”