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

Six Sto:lo chiefs sign MOU agreement affirming Indigenous rights

Moving to next phase of nation-to-nation negotiation in preparation for final treaty

Chilliwack Chiefs sit atop BCHL standings

No one expected the young Chiefs to be this good this fast, but can it last?

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

On Oct. 19, gospel musician, Rob Berg, hosts first concert in Chilliwack in 25 years

Held at the Sardis Community Church, the concert celebrates his career and new album release

Outgoing Chilliwack board chair says anti-SOGI trustees won’t be allowed in schools

Candidates’ anti-LGBTQ rhetoric makes for awkward situations with students, teachers, administrators

Naked man jumping into Toronto shark tank a ‘premeditated’ stunt: official

The man swam in a tank at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Trump: Saudi king ‘firmly denies’ any role in Khashoggi mystery

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is travelling to the Middle East to learn more about the fate of the Saudi national

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Allen died in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Transport Canada to take new look at rules, research on school bus seatbelts

Canada doesn’t currently require seatbelts on school buses

Sockeye run in Shuswap expected to be close to 2014 numbers

Salute to the Sockeye on Adams River continues until Sunday, Oct. 21 at 4 p.m.

Michelle Mungall’s baby first in B.C. legislature chamber

B.C. energy minister praises support of staff, fellow MLAs

B.C. man who abducted and assaulted 11-year-old girl has parole rules tightened

Brian Abrosimo made ‘inappropriate and sexualized’ comments to female staff

Canucks: Pettersson in concussion protocol, Beagle out with broken forearm

Head coach Travis Green called the hit ‘a dirty play’

Most Read