Council asked to support deed transfer tax change

PORT HOOD: Inverness Municipal Council was asked to support the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors (NSAR) in a bid to help first-time home owners keep a little cash in pocket when investing in property.

“Residents can benefit in a number of ways if we looked at changing the deed transfer tax,” said Robert Wambolt, a local realtor representing the NSAR. “We’re hoping the tax could be paid over a five year period.”

Wambolt appeared before council last Thursday, and he fleshed out how the tax affects homeowners.

Right now, the deed transfer tax applies to almost all property sold in Nova Scotia. The rate of the tax is set by the municipality. The only municipalities that don’t charge a deed transfer tax are the Town of Kentville and Municipality of Kings.

The tax must be paid inside 10 days of registering the title. In Inverness County, the rate is set at 1.5 per cent. Wambolt stressed that neither he nor the NSAR want the tax waived; they just want the way it’s collected to be modified.

“It would reduce the financial burden at the point of purchase, provide ability for more home budgeting, provide incentive to remain in home communities or invest in other Nova Scotia neighbourhoods, and increased ability to provide maintenance and increase spin-off spending for the actual sales,” he said.

“Realtors are asking councillors and councils to officially express support for the deed transfer tax changes through the Municipal Government Act to NSAR [Nova Scotia Association of Realtors] and the Minister of Municipal Affairs,” he said. “This can be done by sending a letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and making an official motion to support changes to the deed transfer tax.”

Though council didn’t yet pass a motion to support the change, the general mood around the table seemed favourable.

“The idea is for first-time home buyers to have a little more cash in their pockets to spend elsewhere,” said Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie, mulling over the overall impact of the change.

Councillor Laurie Cranton posed the question of how the tax would be collected, and Wambolt noted there wouldn’t be much change from the way taxes are normally collected. The only difference would be the addition of a five-year time line to collect the money.