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Milton says no to vacant home tax

Tax not in town's best interest, say councillors
There will be no vacant home tax in Milton.

Milton town council voted Monday night (May 13) to opt out of any future bylaws for a vacant home tax currently under review at the regional level.

Councillors endorsed a staff report making the recommendation that the tax wouldn't be in the town’s best interest for now.

At the meeting, Glen Cowan, chief financial officer and treasurer with the Town, said that Halton Region has restarted their review process — first initiated in 2021 — in response to the new provincial framework on vacant home tax.

Although the work is not yet complete, Cowan noted there’s already enough information for council to make a decision. 

“We think there’s efficiency that can be gained by making a decision at this point both for us and for the region in their further steps,” Cowan said.

Milton is aligning itself with municipalities like Guelph and Kitchener, as well as York and Durham regions, in deciding not to levy taxes on vacant properties. 

Among the key points, the report emphasized the anticipated lack of financial viability of the policy and negligible impact on housing prices due to the small number of empty homes identified.

Out of roughly 985 vacant homes across Halton, only about 255 homes in Milton are considered eligible to pay the tax, according to the report.

A preliminary analysis indicates that the region could potentially generate around $6.1 million in revenue, based on a presumed 1 percent vacant home tax rate applied to the assessed property values. However, initial implementation costs are projected to range up to $3.9 million, with additional annual operating expenses estimated at up to $2 million.