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July 2003     Vol. 4, no. 7

Property taxes

Raj K. Chawla and Ted Wannell

  • Average property taxes in 1998 were highest in Central Canada ($2,230 in Ontario and $2,030 in Quebec) and lowest in Newfoundland and Labrador ($640).
  • Families in British Columbia, where property values are relatively higher, did not necessarily pay higher property taxes. In 1998, they paid 0.7% of market value compared with 1.9% in Quebec and Manitoba.
  • Income taxes far exceed property taxes. In 1998, the majority of families paid less than 5% of their income in property taxes while spending 10% or more on income tax. Overall, income tax averaged more than seven times the property tax bill.
  • While income taxes are progressive (reducing income inequality), property taxes are regressive (increasing inequality). Families with incomes of $100,000 or more paid 28.6% in income tax compared with only 1.8% in property tax. The respective shares were 4.0% and 10.0% for those with incomes under $20,000. Property taxes were most regressive at the bottom of the income distribution.
  • Since property taxes are not related to the ability to pay, the elderly and those in low-income groups paid proportionately more. Even though on average the elderly had significant financial assets and home equity, the low-income elderly paid 11.7% of their income in property taxes while their non low-income counterparts paid just 4.2%.


Raj K. Chawla and Ted Wannell are with the Labour and Household Surveys Analysis Division. Raj Chawla can be reached at (613) 951-6901, Ted Wannell at (613) 951-3546, or both at

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