Despite the claims being made about the progress to control or curb the education taxes paid on property, there is still an over-reliance on education taxes levied on all property types in Manitoba.
Business properties, for example, still have to pay the provincial education support levy (ESL) which is a second tax on property tax used to fund ecuation. On the other hand, the provincial education support levy was eliminated in 2006 on residential properties.
In addition, neither businesses or cottage owners receive relief from the province by way of the education property tax credit that has increased from $250 in 1999 to $700 in 2011 on residential properties.
A 2010 study by the Canada West Foundation is highly instructive about the level of education taxation in Manitoba. For major Western Canadian cities, according to the study, the residential education property tax per capita not only went up in Winnipeg between 2005 and 2009, but it is the highest of all cities at over $400. Saskatoon, which led the way in 2005 at $459, has reduced its per capita tax hit on residential property owners to less than $400.
Another important point made in the Canada West Foundation study is the extent of antipathy towards paying education taxes in Saskatchewan. Should we expect it to be any different in Manitoba? Of all the taxes levied in Saskatchewan, almost half of the survey respondents said the education property tax is the worst tax by far. Twice as many respondents selected the education property tax over personal income taxes and it's four times more unpopular than corporate income taxes.
If Saskatchewan property owners could make a change to the education property tax, nearly two-thirds of respondents said the best tax system would have no education property tax at all.
WinnipegREALTORS® has been active as an Education Finance Coalition member in supporting the letspayfair.com campaign, which calls for the eventual elimination of school taxes on property.
The Manitoba Real Estate Association and WinnipegREALTORS® have specifically asked the three main provincial parties whether, if elected, they would commit the government to funding 80 per cent of school operating costs from general revenues, and to further commit to an examination of a model that moves towards 100 per cent funding of education from general revenues.
Education Finance Coalition members are encouraging the public to go to letspayfair.com and send an e-letter letting the provincial leaders, Education Minister Nancy Allan, Finance Minister Rosan Wowchuk and your local MLA know your views on the issue of funding education through property taxes.