Iqaluit moves closer to removing property tax exemption

New law should be in place for 2022, says committee chair

The Iqaluit Masjid, the only mosque in Nunavut, is one of 16 lots currently exempt from its owner paying property tax. The list also includes, among others, the Catholic church, the daycare centre and Cadet Hall in the Royal Canadian Legion and the Francophone centre. (File photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The City of Iqaluit is a step closer to taxing religious institutions, charities and non-profits after its finance committee voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend council change the property tax exemption bylaw.

If passed by council Sept. 14, city administration will develop the bylaw for council to vote to implement it in December or January, said finance committee chairperson Kyle Sheppard in an interview.

“By bringing in an application process, it would give a council committee the option to look individually at each application, ensure that the organization is active and providing the service to the community,” said the city’s senior director of corporate services, Alison Drummond, on Tuesday.

It’s the next step in a process that began in February, when councillors requested city staff to look into developing a policy the city could adopt to charge property tax to the 16 organizations that are currently exempt from paying.

Drummond said the city is giving up approximately $400,000 in property tax revenue from the exempt organizations — some of which aren’t in operation anymore.

If the proposed new policy is adopted, those organizations would have to go through an application process every few years that determines how much they will pay in property taxes.

There will be a full or partial exemption, with the partial exemptions split into two categories: 35- or 50-per-cent reductions.

To receive a partial tax exemption, the organizations will have to meet two of six requirements that determine what the building is used for, such as for childcare, religion or history or cultural purposes.

To continue to get a full tax exemption, the city will consider the organization’s services, if they fill holes in services that the city does not provide, or if they bring cultural and social value.

They will also have to show a financial need great enough that not having a tax exemption would be “detrimental to the delivery of their programs,” according to the draft policy.

Sheppard said the support will equal no more than 1.25 per cent of the city’s tax revenue and that the bylaw should be in effect for 2022.

In June, Mayor Kenny Bell tweeted he would move to amend the city’s exemption from property taxation bylaw shortly after news broke that the remains of 751 bodies, which are believed to be former students, had been located in unmarked graves at the former Marieval Indian Residential school in Saskatchewan.

He later backtracked, saying that a similar motion to the one he proposed had been passed in February, and that city staff were already developing a policy to change the property tax exemption bylaw.

During the finance committee meeting, he said that Iqaluit is the only municipality in Nunavut that offers such tax exemptions.

“Every other place in Nunavut is charged taxes,” he said.

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(20) Comments:

  1. Posted by Make them pay on

    These churches and mosques are very rich they should have to pay property tax

    • Posted by The Old Trapper on

      From Wikipedia, wealthiest religious organizations;
      1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – $200 billion
      2. Catholic Church in Germany – $26 billion
      3. Catholic Church in Australia – $25 billion
      4. Church of England – $11.97 billion
      5. Trinity Church (USA) – $6 billion
      6. The Vatican (Catholic Church) – $4 billion
      7. Opus Dei (Catholic Church) – $2 billion
      8. Catholic Church in the Philippines – $2 billion
      9. Church of Scientology – $2 billion
      I think that any of the religious organizations probably have enough money and resources to start paying their fair share – or more. It seems to be a very profitable business.

    • Posted by Bert Rose on

      Perhaps you should do some volunteer work and find out for yourself that the organizational behind such Churches etc are far far from wealthy.
      This is headed for the same taxation trap as interest on overdue home owners taxes have.
      I do not support this action.

      • Posted by I see on

        So where have you volunteered to?
        Where did you get your accounting degree and access to these organizations accounting books?

        Have you kept a close eye on the books of those organizations you were part of to make sure that they were following all financial protocals? Both ethnically and according to policy?

    • Posted by Tax them 100% on

      Their riches shouldn’t be the only argument for taxing them, many of these smaller churches and mosques probably don’t have that much, but they should be taxed for the liabilities they place on us as a civilization.

  2. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    I think that the City of Iqaluit needs to add a few other criteria, but on the opposite side that would count against providing a discount;
    1. Does the organization have paid employees or board members.
    2. Does the organization subsidize accommodations or services for any employees or volunteers.
    3. Does the organization contribute funds to affiliated national or global organizations.
    4. Does the organization pay fundraisers/contract fundraisers.
    5. Does the organization pay “guests” for appearances, or allow guests to use their facilities for fundraising.
    6. Does the organization promote any political agenda, party, or individual.
    If you are a charity then a discount would be in order but don’t tell me that the Church of Rome – the largest landowner in the world can’t afford to pay 100% of it’s property taxes. Especially after it raised a token $4m of a promised $25m in residential schools reparations and then went to court to weasel out of paying the rest.
    That is only the most egregious example but there are plenty of “charities” with high paid executive directors, paid board members, and paid fundraisers on staff.
    Not that most of the Iqaluit organizations are like this but do you really want a mayor and/or council handling out discounts because they like the organization, or because of quantifiable objective criteria?

  3. Posted by Bert Rose on

    Can the public see the list of these 16 properties please?

  4. Posted by Forest for the trees on

    Kyle and Kenny, focusing on a 1.25% issue when they should be looking more closely at 98.75% of the issues. Just watch the amount of time and administrative resources (and MONEY) an application based process with eat. Watch how expensive a judicial review of the inevitable stupid decision by the City will become. The City continues to be a complete joke of an organization. I voted for Kenny because I expected more, not more of the same nonsense we’ve had in recent years.

    • Posted by Voter on

      all this and what is being done about the real issue of non payment for those who owe? Millions! what about that? NWT, and provinces deal with it by selling off the property.

      Idea: all homeowners don’t pay taxes. City doesn’t collect it anyways.

      I won’t vote for KB ever again.

  5. Posted by Paradigm Shift on

    I present to you a modern manifesto on the taxation of religious institutions.

    For a number of years there has been some discussion about raising the tax rate on things like chocolate bars, pop, and other junk foods. Though I’m unaware for certain, I suspect a fairly broad agreement at the societal level, even though there has never been much effort to implement any kind of tax (perhaps because there is no consensus at all—not that there need be).

    High taxes on alcohol are the same kind of issue. We broadly agree that they should be in place. We might not always like it, but no one is going to seriously take the issue on publicly and expect to get anywhere. Worse, they would knowingly accept stigmatization as an alcoholic, even if they were just a libertarian with a bee in the hat.

    So, what about churches? There is, I believe, a growing awareness in our society that these too bring liabilities that incur a cost we will all inevitably bare. In the two cases above these are health costs. In the case of the church, and just as critical to our survival, is the danger presented to our ability to find a common method as to how we decide what counts as truth and knowledge.

    Churches and mosques should both be taxed for the pollution they dump into our public information commons. They distort our ideas about men and women. They distort our ideas about the science of our planet, they consistently urge us to believe fantasies about our origin, where we might also find key ideas for our long-term survival. We need these abilities to navigate our future as self-conscious species on this earth, and the church impairs our capacity to do this.

    So, like the chocolate bar and the bottle of spirits, we are free to enjoy, but as a society we agree to send at least some of our costs back to the creators of the poison in our system.

    • Posted by Bravo! on

      “Churches and mosques should both be taxed for the pollution they dump into our public information commons.”

      Take a bow my friend

  6. Posted by Religious Experience on

    I remember a summer job I had, many years ago., when I was young and naive.
    A religious charity printed a magazine containing articles written by religious leaders of various faiths and denominations. These magazines were distributed, free of charge, in hospitals, etc. The magazines included cards that people could mail in, pledging to donate money to the magazine “to cover costs”. I don’t know about the large pledges, I never saw them. My summer job was to collect the small pledges of $1 or $2 or $5. My “pay” for doing this work was 60% of what I collected.

  7. Posted by Nunavutmiu on

    Atheist running both side of the Population where the majority of the Population is not. It is time the public needs to be more educated as not one from the community is part of the council=all visitors and the local people gets most hit.I know we welcome each other but i believe there is an elder among these visitors.=no offence? Perhaps best thing to do at the moment have a public consultation and decide and majority should be the local people-no offence if the business sector cannot decide.City should be helping the Public i mean ALL equally based .council as we are a Remote place . When Nunavut was created Inuit will govern their own Territory.?

    • Posted by John K on

      Name a more iconic dou than Christianity and justifying ethnonationalism.

  8. Posted by Down to Earth Human Being on

    I am 100% agree to taxing the churches in the Arctic….There’s a version somewhere in the Bible….says “Jesus and his Disciples pays tax to the kings country” when they enters the country……SO….every churches in Nunavut can pay their Municipalities….if the Hamlets have by-laws to do so……most churches are paid from their members or non members for tithing…..10% of your pay or from your pensions……quite a few people are following that as belief……AND also the churches has to pay taxes to their local government……in half of what they teach to their congregation…….converting them from their previous beliefs……How many had died and how many are in poorer situation after the great conversion… thought…..

  9. Posted by Northern Guy on

    I am all for taxing religious institutions as many if not all have very deep pockets. But if we do we have to acknowledge the elephant in the room. Many will choose not to pay in which case they will shutter their doors. Is the city aware of the support religious institutions provide in Iqaluit? Is the city willing to step in to replace those services? …. unlikely.

    • Posted by The Old Trapper on

      I think that it is pretty clear that the City will reduce the property taxes on churches and other organizations who provide charitable services.
      I don’t think that most people have an issue with that.
      Religion itself though is a business. Just look at the lists provided. You don’t accumulate that sort of wealth unless you act as a business. Now if all, or even a sizable portion of the revenue generated were returned through charity then fine, reduce or even eliminate the property taxes.
      That is however not the case with most churches. Their main business is religion, converting people to their moral, ethical, and spiritual beliefs, and being able to spread and grow their adherents. That is not charity.

      • Posted by Nice call on

        Exactly, Old Trapper. This will incentivize these organizations to do charitable work.

        On the other hand, we should not be subsidizing them to spread falsehoods, cognitive distortions, fantasies and basic epistemological chaos.

  10. Posted by Lurater on

    Welcome to the era of useless leaders and their leadership. Why is the f’ing Royal Bank manager in this mix

    • Posted by Becaue its all about money on

      Because it’s all about MONEY.

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