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Vancouver City Council Approves Empty Homes Tax

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

18 November 2016

Vancouver City Council has formally approved the introduction of a one percent Empty Homes Tax from January 2017.

The Council approved the proposal, put forward by the Mayor's office, on November 16. The tax will target up to 22,000 empty or under-utilized homes. The aim is to return empty or under-utilized properties to use as long-term rental homes for people who live and work in Vancouver.

Homes that are deemed empty will be subject to a tax of one percent on the property's assessed value. The tax will not apply to principal residences or homes rented on a long-term basis. Several other exemptions will apply, including for properties where the registered owner uses the property for at least six months of the year for work but claims a principal residence elsewhere, and where the ownership of the property changed during the year.

In February 2018, all Vancouver homeowners will be required to complete a self-declaration concerning the status of their property in the 2017 calendar year. These declarations will be subject to an audit and enforcement process. The first Empty Homes Tax payment will be due in April 2018.

Late and unpaid Empty Homes Taxes will be subject to the same remedies for non-payment as property taxes, including: a late payment penalty of five percent; daily interest on arrears; and a tax sale process. False declarations will result in fines of up to CAD10,000 (USD7,380) per day of the continuing offense, in addition to payment of the tax.

Mayor Gregor Robertson said: "In Vancouver's rental housing crisis, the city can't afford to sit on the side lines while more than 20,000 empty and underused houses hold back badly-needed longer-term rentals. The Empty Homes Tax won't solve the rental crisis, but it's one piece of the puzzle to boosting rental supply and bringing relief to renters by turning thousands of empty and under used homes into rental properties."

TAGS: tax | property tax | interest | audit | enforcement | tax rates | Canada | tax reform

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