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.

Just Posted

Chilliwack art show fundraiser, One Foot by One Foot, helps mental health community

Sales from Chilliwack Visual Artists Association show benefit two local charities

Excel Martial Arts raises more than $5,000 for family of Chilliwack man killed in workplace accident

By-donation fundraiser event helps wife, three children of 28-year-old Nathan Appleton of Chilliwack

Seven Days in Chilliwack for the week of Dec. 17

A list of community events happening in Chilliwack from Dec. 17 to 23

Chilliwack Lions Club has a new place to call home

After more than five years without a headquarters, Chilliwack Lions Club moves into new hall

Sardis Falcons top Heritage Woods in field lacrosse opener

The Falcons rallied from a halftime hole to take a big win on the road in Port Moody.

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Canucks score 3 power-play goals in 4-2 win over Oilers

Vancouver sniper Boeser has 6 goals in last 5 games

Microscopic parasite found in Prince Rupert water affecting thousands

More than 12,000 residents affected by the boil water advisory issued Dec. 14

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

B.C. VIEWS: Andrew Wilkinson on taxes, ICBC and union changes

Opposition leader sees unpredictable year ahead in 2019

5 tips for self-care, mental wellness this holiday season

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions urging British Columbians to prioritize self care through festive season

Most Read