June 8, 2018 – The County of Middlesex, in conjunction with its constituent Local Area Municipalities is seeking feedback related to the reform of the property tax reduction and rebate program that currently exists for vacant commercial and industrial properties. Those wishing to provide input on these matters may complete an online survey and comment submission form.
Under the current program owners of commercial and industrial buildings have been able to apply for a partial property tax rebate if all or part of the property was vacant for at least 90 consecutive days. This rebate program was introduced in 2001 as a means of more closely mimicking the effects of the Business Occupancy Tax system that was repealed in 1998. The program has been marked by some critical weaknesses since its inception and has become increasingly problematic over time.
While conceived as a program to address temporary and sporadic conditions, many properties remain eligible for years at a time or indefinitely, thereby receiving ongoing vacancy rebates while also realizing assessment based reductions to reflect persistently low occupancy rates.
Within the County and across the province, municipalities have found the program to be increasingly difficult to manage, budget for and administer. The application and enforcement of eligibility criteria has become particularly difficult due to loosely defined rules and limited compliance provisions.
County and area municipal staff have recommended that the program be eliminated based on the limited benefit it conveys, the pervasive compliance issues and high administrative costs ultimately carried by all taxpayers. Input regarding the potential implications of this change is being sought from landlords, business owners and members of the general public and will inform the final decision making process.
Interested parties are encouraged to submit a formal survey and comment form, which is available online at https://secure.mte.ca/middlesex. For those wishing to complete a survey in person, they may be picked up from the tax counter in your local municipal office or the county office located at 399 Ridout Street North, London, Ontario N6A 2P1 during regular business hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30 to 4:30).
The deadline for the submission of input is Friday June 29th, 2018.