Toronto Mayor Rob Ford — stripped of most of his powers last month in the wake of a crack cocaine scandal — has thrown his weight behind a plan that would seemingly be a hit with homebuyers and real estate agents: an overhaul of the city’s land transfer tax, which would cost the city almost $20 million a year, the Toronto Sun reports.

But the Toronto Real Estate Board is publicly denouncing the plan, which would reportedly eliminate the Toronto Home Buyer Tax on the first $200,000 value of a property, but also get rid of a rebate for first-time homebuyers that refunds the tax they pay on the first $400,000 of property value.

With the average Toronto home selling for $570,000, 40 percent of first-time buyers already pay some land transfer tax, TREB says.

“Even first-time homebuyers purchasing below-average-priced properties are being forced to pay thousands of dollars in Toronto homebuying tax,” said Von Palmer, TREB’s chief government and public affairs officer, in a statement. “Any proposal to eliminate the first-time-buyer rebate would make this situation worse.”

Ford has previously campaigned on eliminating the tax altogether. His budget chief, Frank Di Giorgio, doesn’t think the current plan will be embraced by the City Council, but will make a case for it.

“I don’t care if you’re a first-time homebuyer or any homebuyer, you shouldn’t have to pay on the first $200[-thousand], even $300[-thousand],” Di Giorgio told the National Post,  acknowledging that “the first-time homebuyer would suffer, but many more people would benefit.” Source: news.nationalpost.com

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