Tax Reform at a Glance |  Skip to content. Accessibility info.

Tax Reform at a Glance

Mission and Principles |

A word about the current property tax system

Since the 1880s municipalities in Nova Scotia have collected property tax as a percentage of the value of a home. The original idea was that those with more valuable property had a greater ability to pay. Today things have changed. Current research indicates there is little link between income and property values. As a result:

  • Tax bills rise even though municipal services stay constant. Due to changes in property values, tax bills can rise as much as 25% plus in a year.
  • There are a bewildering range of tax bills. A middle income earner of $50,000 might have a bill as low as $500 or as high as $5,000 – all for essentially the same services. The average bill is just over $2,000.
  • Low Income families are finding it more and more difficult to afford their property taxes.
  • Newly built homes or those that have recently sold, have higher tax bills than similar homes.

Today, there are three general tax rates (urban, suburban, rural) loosely based on transit, sidewalks and local recreation facilities. Most services are paid for through the general tax rate but there are also about 50 various area tax rates. In total, there are about 200 various combinations of tax rates across HRM. Water and sewer are collected through a user fee on the water bill.

Tax Reform aims to improve the property tax system 

Based on public consultations in the Spring of 2007 it aims to create a true service based system. Municipal services would be divided into nine service based taxes:

  • Hydrants
  • Solid Waste
  • Local Roads
  • Local Recreation Facilities
  • Local Sidewalks
  • Local Transit
  • Regional Roads
  • Regional Transit
  • Regional Tax Rate (Police, RCMP, Fire, Libraries, Other)

There would be clear rules as to who pays for which service. Hydrants, solid waste and local roads would be paid for by those that have the service. Local recreation facilities, sidewalks and local transit would be paid for by those within a set distance of the service (eg 1 km for sidewalks). Regional Roads and Regional Transit would have tax rates that vary by each of four “zones”. The Regional Tax Rate would be paid by all. Area rates for Provincial services such as mandatory education would not change.

Unlike the current tax system, these nine service based taxes would be at a flat amount. Each home would pay the same amount with a reduced rate for apartments and condos. Tax bills would no longer vary by the value of the property.

The value of the low income tax rebate would be increased substantially.

Under a new, reformed tax system many of the inequities in property would disappear. Taxpayers would find it easier to understand what they are paying taxes for and how much the service costs. Such a system should be more equitable, more stable, simpler and more transparent. It raises the same amount of tax revenue as the current system.

Over the next several weeks, the Tax Reform Committee is seeking your input on this possible new tax system. Regional Council has not debated or approved changes to the system.

You will find the following on this site:

  • Information Panels on: 
        -The Tax Reform Project
        -The Mission and Principles of a proposed new tax system
        - 4 panels showing 4 neighbourhoods across the HRM, indicating how taxes might change with a more service based tax system. 
    Have a look to see which neighbourhood most closely fits your own.
    A request for feedback on the proposal and alternatives
  • Maps describing service areas and zones for various municipal services•
  • A survey/questionnaire to find out what out think of the proposed direction of the tax model

Thank you for your time and help to improve our municipal tax system and our city.

Your feedback and ideas are of critical importance to us, we need to know what you think!

Your Tax Reform Committee

Tax Reform Municipal Property Tax Calculator
2008 Information Newsletter To PDF Acrobat Tips
Tax Reform Presentation
The above video is a powerpoint presentation.  In order to view the this document you must have PowerPoint or you may download the "free" viewer at Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer
Tax Reform Committee