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March 2005
Vol. 6, no. 3

Perspectives on Labour and Income

Property taxes relative to income
Boris Palameta and Ian Macredie

  • In 342 municipalities examined, homeowners in the lowest income quartile spent a greater proportion of their income on property taxes—sometimes as much as four or five times greater—than those in the highest quartile.
  • The regressiveness of property taxes has nothing to do with tax levels set by local governments. It arises because income inequality generally exceeds property value inequality. Municipalities with high income inequality and relatively low property value inequality—mainly municipalities in large, urban areas—generally have more regressive property taxes.
  • Neither can regressiveness be attributed simply to seniors with low incomes living in relatively expensive houses. In most municipalities, lower-income non-seniors spent an equal or greater proportion of their income on property taxes compared with their senior counterparts.

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Boris Palameta is with the Income Statistics Division. Ian Macredie is with the Public Institutions Division. Boris Palameta can be reached at (613) 951-2124, Ian Macredie can be reached at (613) 951-9456 or both at

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