Protestors – and interlopers – at a school tax rally in Vancouver in May. (KyleBryan/Twitter)

Mathematician not impressed by people complaining about B.C.’s school tax

Jens von Bergmann of Vancouver said says the province bungled the rollout

A Vancouver mathematician is feeling a little confused, and a lot snarky, about why British Columbians can’t seem to understand how the increased school tax works.

“I kept reading these stories about the people affected… and I thought maybe this [calculator] was needed,” Jens von Bergmann told Black Press Media.

“I think the fact that it is a wealth based tax means it’s new and it’s different.”

The school tax, announced by Finance Minister Carol James in February, would apply a tax rate of 0.2 per cent to the portion of a home’s assessed residential value that is between $3 million and $4 million, excluding stratified rentals. A tax rate of 0.4 per cent would apply to all home value over $4 million.

“It just really drives home this divide we’re facing in Vancouver,” said Von Bergmann.

“People that have bought quite a while ago and have seen their house value go up but don’t perceive that necessarily as liquid wealth and other people that are really struggling to pay rent in the city. I think the tax is trying to strike some sort of balance between the two.”

READ MORE: David Eby cancels town hall due to ‘safety concerns’ after school tax protest planned

The tax is due to start in 2019 but has already raised outrage, especially in Attorney General David Eby’s Point Grey riding.

Eby cancelled a town hall on the tax in early May, claiming that the opposition was encouraging non-registered attendees to crash the ticket-only event and making it unsafe.

MaryAnn Cummings, a Point Grey senior who’s against the tax, called it “predatory” and said that the tax “ignores an owners ability to pay it.”

But Von Bergmann says he doesn’t have much sympathy.

“I find it hard to relate to how this could constitute any form of cruel hardship,” he wrote in a blog post.

“And I am comfortably housed, I don’t want to imagine how someone struggling to pay rent in this city is supposed to by sympathetic to this.”

An owner of a $4 million house would pay $2,000 in school tax, according to the province. While Von Bergmann blames people’s poor math skills for not being able to grasp how little they’ll really pay in extra taxes, he also thinks the province bungled the rollout.

He brought up the example of David Tha, 72, who told the Vancouver Courier that he was cutting cable and eating less meat to afford the tax.

But although Von Bergmann called Tha “principled,” he noted that he could either sell, or just defer the taxes on his $6.75-million home, which had gone up from the $370,000 Tha bought it for in 1987.

“We have to conclude that he is very principled, but I am still not convinced that the single mom trying to make ends meet renting an East Van basement suite will be terribly sympathetic to Tha’s self-imposed budget constraints,” Von Bergmann wrote.

“Vancouver is indeed expensive, but with $6.7M in equity, almost all of which is untaxed capital gains, it is very hard to see how they could find a reasonable place to live to fit their middle class lifestyle.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Local liquor store raising funds for food bank

On May 30, a portion of sales at JAK’s Beer Wine & Spirits will be donated to the food bank

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

City of Campbell River re-opening most park amenities and outdoor washrooms

Splash park, playgrounds, sports fields, outdoor volleyball courts, indoor facilities not yet

First Nation’s guardians ‘take matters into their own hands’ and organize environmental clean-up

Mamalilikulla guardians step up to clear abandoned boats after no response from natural resource officers

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Mirror business directory and map

If you’d like to be added to the list, shoot us an email

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Most Read