A recent set of statistics published on the real estate site Zoocasa has attracted a fair amount of attention in the media and ultimately even in Thunder Bay. The data for these Ontario municipalities includes the property tax rate, the average value of homes and tax calculations for some standardized home values ranging from $250,000 to $1,000,000 dollars. The highlight of the data is of a course a ranking of property tax rates across 35 Ontario municipalities and the illustration that property tax rates in Windsor are the highest in the province and those in Toronto are the lowest with Thunder Bay coming in at second highest.
Of course, how you rank these tax burdens – especially when we are discussing property taxes in say Thunder Bay or Sudbury compared to southern Ontario cities – can lead to different answers. In the end, much depends if you want to rank tax rates, the average taxes paid based on average property values, taxes paid per standardized house values or property taxes as a share of resources available – for example household income. There are two components to calculating a simple estimate of property taxes paid – the value of the home and the tax rate applied. Using the tax and property value data from Zoocasa and household income data from the BMA 2019 report, here are some of the rankings in visual form.
First, Figure 1 plots average house values ranked from highest to lowest for the 35 Ontario municipalities. The prices range from a high of $1.08 million dollars in Richmond Hill to a low of just under $189,000 for Sault Ste. Marie. Not surprisingly, houses in the GTA area have the higher values while the four northern Ontario cities in the data are all at the bottom. Sharing the bottom with northern Ontario cities are other places that have been relatively economically depressed in recent years – Windsor, London, St. Catharines.