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A women wearing a mask walks past real estate listings in Mississauga, Ont., on May 26, 2020.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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Me first

Re Who Should Get Vaccine Priority? (Editorial, March 23): As a 74-year-old retired physician waiting for my turn, I am biased in favor of the adage “age before beauty.” We seniors are people’s parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. We may be past our prime, but we are also the most vulnerable.

We are faced with this quandary of choice because of mismanagement by our governments. As a result, we are in a state of panic I have not ever seen in this country. Seniors are not the issue.

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I believe confidence will be restored when all levels of government are transparent and message the same truth to Canadians, while working to pay whatever is required to get safe and effective vaccines into our arms.

Arthur Leader Ottawa

Capital ideas

Re Is It Time To Tax Capital Gains On Homes? (Editorial, March 20): Most people’s homes are their retirement fallback plan. If we tax the capital gain, how would this be calculated?

Would the sum of all property taxes, improvements, maintenance and insurance costs paid over the life of ownership be deducted, as would be normal in business? Would interest expense on mortgages be deductible as per the United States? Would it only apply to homes that are “flipped,” or on all homes including those which families have lived in for decades?

I can see accounting firms rubbing their hands in glee. When one sells a stock for a gain, the only incremental cost incurred other than commission is the opportunity cost. When one sells a principal residence, there are a lot of factors that should be considered.

Stew Valcour Rothesay, N.B.

In the United States, gains on a principal residence are taxed, but mortgage payments are deductible from taxable income as well. The two go hand in glove together there.

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When, as Canada’s minister of state for housing, I proposed mortgage payment deductibility to make home ownership more affordable, I was told we would have to tax gains on principal residences as well – because the two go hand in glove together.

I’m sure the Department of Finance is drooling at the suggestion of taxing gains on principal residences without tax deductibility for mortgage payments.

Alan Redway Toronto

If Canada has a “Rocky Mountains-high list of tax breaks,” it would only be because we have a list of taxes higher than the Foothills. In my opinion, as a real estate broker of 45 years, a better solution to the problem would be to eliminate capital gains tax on everything.

It would encourage investment in other sectors more vital to our economy, and help to finance something more than self-indulgence. I find that capital gains tax is a cumbersome tax on inflation and a burden to optimism, risk-taking and creativity.

By removing this tax, Canada would effectively give everyone of any income a tax-free savings account, and remove that tax break from the the Rockies.

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James Palmer CCIM; broker, Re/Max Hallmark Realty Group; Ottawa

Taxing capital gains on home sales makes excellent sense. But broader reform should be essential: Capital gains should be taxed on a blanket basis and evenly with income, with a few caveats.

A rollover provision should allow reinvestment without penalty, so that taxes are paid only when one cashes out. A unified lifetime exemption for capital gains should be available to all, applicable to anything from homes to stock options. And a stamp tax on leveraged debt should be instituted, so that capital gains cannot be circumvented by borrowing against assets.

With such measures in place, homeowners moving from a condo to a house would not suffer, excessive compensation packages would be restrained and speculative borrowing would be checked.

Together, these should be more important goals than the historical accident of the principal residence exemption.

Jonathan Weisman Vancouver

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When it comes to housing policy, we find that taxing capital gains on Canadian homes is not the silver bullet some believe it to be. It would be excessively complicated, with far-reaching implications, and would likely backfire.

Consider the economics of supply and demand: In 2020, home sales trended upward to a record high while new listings sunk to an all-time low. This extreme ratio continues to be at historically elevated levels due to unprecedented demand and low interest rates that far outstrip new supply.

We can’t tax our way out of a housing supply shortage. The only answer would be to create more supply, across the entire housing spectrum, at a rate that meets demand. It is not a simple answer, but we believe it has the benefit of being the right one – and one that is good for growing our economy.

John DiMichele CEO, Toronto Regional Real Estate Board

Michael Bourque CEO, Canadian Real Estate Association; Ottawa

A $300,000 home becomes a million-dollar home? In our case it was a $12,000 condo, bought as a hole in the ground (never flipped – homes are for families).

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That growth has taken 60 years, almost exactly, because my husband worked for non-profits by choice, and because I stayed home with the children for the first 15 years. There were some pretty tight years. If the government is going to start taxing those gains, they should establish a very long timeline.

I am 91; this condo is my legacy for two widowed daughters who followed the family tradition of non-profit work. Changes at this point would affect at least three families. Chrystia Freeland and Justin Trudeau should take care with such a decision.

Donna Stewart North Vancouver

Charitable choice

Re The WE Charity Scandal Was 25 Years In The Making (Opinion, March 20): Columnist Doug Saunders advocates for removing the charitable donations tax credit and instead creating a “one-stop shop governments can use to draw upon, fund and monitor charities.” However, the credit enables our family to contribute much more to charity than we otherwise could.

We give generously and diligently vet organizations that we support. I participate on the governing boards of three of them, so as to know them intimately and contribute more than just money. We want to choose where our donations are directed, rather than a government body taxing us and deciding which charities deserve support.

After all, the WE Charity controversy arose when the federal government awarded it a contract to deliver a program funded by taxpayers.

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Michael Pohanka Kelowna, B.C.

Pun to spare

Re The Pun-demic (Letters, March 20): A letter-writer wittily comments that “we are on the road to demask us.” With apologies to Ralph Waldo Emerson, I suggest that it’s not the journey, but the vaccination.

Nigel Brachi Edmonton

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here:

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