If you are a Vancouver based business with a retail location then you are no stranger to the unpredictable and seemingly unfair taxation system that is forcing many businesses, some iconic staples in our community, to close down. With land taxes in some areas doubling annually to reflect soaring residential property valuations the mom and pop shops that are loved across the city risk being phased out and replaced by chains.
Unlike residential properties, commercial properties in Vancouver are taxed at a rate that is 5 times higher, are assessed based on the potential use of the property and not the actual use/business revenue of the property and the taxes are not paid by the property owner and instead, are passed onto the tenant. This puts a huge burden on small business owners and can limit growth opportunities and cost people jobs.
So the golden question is – what can be done?
While there isn’t a huge amount that can be done from a tax and bookkeeping perspective, here are some avenues that small business owners can take to voice their concerns about this growing issue.
Contact Your Local Councillor
Small businesses account for roughly 95 percent of Vancouver’s enterprises. With such a significant amount of revenue, jobs, and services at stake city council members are starting to take the issue of land tax seriously.
Here is the list of Vancouver’s city councilors and their contact details. George Affleck has been calling for a review of the cities current policies in an attempt to protect small businesses.
Appeal Your Bill
According to Chris Jobe, manager of the property tax division at the real-estate consulting firm Turner Drake & Partners Ltd. in Halifax, small business owners can appeal their tax bill if they can prove that the property has been overvalued during the assessment.
While the City of Vancouver website states that successful appeals are rare if you want to try your luck you can find more information here!
As we mentioned earlier small business owners make up roughly 95 percent of enterprises in Vancouver and there is strength in numbers. Trying to change the current situation is not going to be easy but by coming together and drawing attention to the issues small business owners are facing is one option that will give our retailers a fighting chance. Join your local business association and work to make this issue a focus. Educate your community and talk to the press.
If the city doesn’t do something about this growing crisis more and more small business are going to close, sell or move. This will dramatically impact the level of choice available to residents and the overall appeal of our city.
Let’s hope that the increased attention on this issue can help create some change.