Says ‘underused’ housing tax in Canada’s budget would create ‘unnecessary burden’ on Americans owning property in Canada
Congressman Brian Higgins is urging U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to address the issue of Canada’s proposed property tax on American property owners during bilateral conversations planned for this week. Tai is scheduled to meet with Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng in Ottawa on Thursday, with additional meetings planned in Toronto on Friday.
In a letter to Ambassador Tai, Higgins wrote, in part, “The proposed Underused Housing Tax would enact a 1% tax on the value of non-resident, non-Canadian owned residential real estate that is defined as vacant or underused. While the Government of Canada’s current draft bill incorporates exceptions for vacation homes, such as homes that are not winterized, homes in Census agglomerations of fewer than 30,000 residents, and homes that are occupied for greater than four weeks of the calendar year, many modest properties owned by Americans do not meet these exemptions. For example, Fort Erie, Ontario has a population of 30,710, above the currently proposed threshold, and an estimated 15% of properties in the town are owned by Americans according to Mayor Wayne Redekop. Furthermore, any restriction of property ownership on the basis of nationality violates the bedrock non-discrimination principles of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).”
Higgins serves on the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, which oversees U.S. tax policy, and is a member of the Subcommittee on Trade. Higgins recently raised the property tax issue during a Ways and Means hearing with Tai last month.
Higgins, whose district includes Buffalo and Niagara Falls, is co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus and the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group.