Apply tax reduction equally

I was dumbfounded when I read that both Canadian Tire and Walmart were going to receive back taxes from the Town of Fort Frances after a hearing by the Municipal Property Assessment Corp.
Where was the province and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario in opposing the reductions in taxes?
Canadian Tire has at least 67 stores spread out across Ontario, in addition to “Parts Source” stores and 74 “Mark Work Wearhouse” outlets in southern Ontario.
Walmart has 123 locations in Ontario. And every town and city in Ontario where these stores exist is facing the requirement that they roll back and refund municipal taxes to these corporate giants.
It was a huge corporate tax win. They effectively transferred their tax load back to the citizens of the communities they served.
Fort Frances has taken a huge tax hit. Kenora, Dryden, and Thunder Bay also are facing similar tax hits.
The mayor and council here have requested a meeting with MPAC officials for an explanation as to “why box stores are getting a tax break.”
Those box stores have built their stores in a manner to create maximum return on investment. When they applied for a building permit, they laid out how much the building was going to cost to build.
They had no objection to publicly declaring their investment in the community. They let everyone know what the value of the building and property was.
We know the success of businesses is directly the result of the abilities of their owners and managers. Successful owners produce great profits while poor owners have poorer financial results.
Now we learn that revenue earning power is a consideration in determining box store values. A poor operator pays lower taxes while a good operator would pay higher municipal taxes.
Fast forward to now, when the request for tax adjustment is stating that the building isn’t worth what we paid for it. One of the methods used to value property by MPAC is “value is indicated by a property’s revenue-earning power, based on the capitalization of income.”
The box stores argue that their earning power has been directly hurt through purchases on the Internet. As has almost every retail business in Ontario.
The biggest Internet competitor for those box stores in communities is their corporate owners. And they are competing directly with Amazon.
Both Walmart and Canadian Tire have posted great earnings this year on the stock market. Total sales have not been hurt.
And both corporations have plans to modernize, expand, and replace stores not only in Ontario but across Canada. They remain positive about their bricks and mortar buildings.
Every mayor and reeve across Ontario should be marching down the halls of Queen’s Park demanding the Government of Ontario review and revise the rules for taxation of box stores and malls in the province.
Every mayor and reeve should be demanding that their provincial MLA question the government on MPAC assessments.
If no action comes from the province, then every retail, manufacturing, and food service operation should demand the same reduction in municipal taxation.
If the tax reduction is good for box stores, it should be applied equally to every retail, manufacturing, and restaurant operation in Fort Frances and right across Rainy River District.

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