By: Jessica Smith Cross Metro News, Published on Fri Oct 30 2015
The Aga Khan Foundation will ask City Council for tax exempt status. Other cultural institutions, including the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), do not pay property taxes. The ROM, TSO, COC and TIFF have it [tax exempt status] .
Facing a whopping property tax bill, the Aga Khan Museum and Ismaili Centre is seeking tax exempt status from the City of Toronto.
The museum opened in September 2014 on a large parcel of land near Eglinton Ave. E. and Don Mills Rd.
City staff have assessed the property, post-development, at $90.9 million. That translates into a $331,700 annual property tax bill.
Because the Ismaili Centre is a place of worship, $43.1 million of the $90.9 million is already tax exempt. The Aga Khan Foundation is asking city council and the provincial government to legally exempt the remainder.
There’s a precedent: Toronto’s large cultural institutions, including the Art of Ontario (AGO) and the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) , were made tax exempt by a bill passed at Queen’s Park, with council’s assent.
Canada’s National Ballet School, the Canadian Opera Company, the George R. Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, the National Ballet of Canada and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra also have municipal tax exemptions.
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) was also granted tax exempt status for the TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre in 2014, said Councillor Michael Thompson, chair of Toronto’s economic development committee.
In TIFF’s case, Thompson said the city is forgoing about $1 million in tax revenue, but gaining much more in economic development and international exposure.
“We don’t do it frivolously,” he said. “This creates a huge economic impact for the citizens of Toronto, it’s not as though we’re giving money away.”
Thompson was in favour of TIFF’s tax exemption, and supports the Aga Khan Foundation’s request as well.
“The Aga Khan Museum is not dissimilar, it’s a facility that brings tourists from around the world and worldwide acclaim to Toronto,” he said.
City council will consider the Aga Khan Foundation’s appeal Tuesday.