What all Vancouver homeowners should know about the Empty Homes Tax

Anybody home?

To address Vancouver’s housing crisis, the City of Vancouver has implemented an annual tax on empty or under-utilized residential properties called the Empty Homes Tax. No later than February 2, 2018, every homeowner in Vancouver is required to submit a property status declaration to determine if their property is subject to the tax.

At an Empty Homes Tax information session at West Point Grey Community Centre on Friday, December 15, the public voiced specific concerns.

One homeowner at the information session asked how it works for homes that are on the market for sale but are uninhabitable.

“This is a contentious issue,” Parhard said. “…impacting a lot of people that are just trying to do their best with managing their assets. There is an exemption around homes that are under construction and redevelopment.”

The tax will not apply if homeowners meet one of the following exemptions.

According to Parhar, “it’s a tax that has implications that may be perceived as unfair, but the City is doing their best out in the community to provide information.”

A retired couple from the Gulf Islands who own a home in Vancouver said that they “know a number of people who have sold properties and gone elsewhere” since they were threatened with the new tax. They want to find out how to challenge the tax.

The Empty Homes tax motion was moved by Green councillor, Adrian Carr, in November 2016 and came into action on January 1st, 2017.

Most homes won’t be subject to the tax since it doesn’t apply to principal residences or homes rented for at least six months of the year. However, all homeowners are required to submit a declaration.

Properties deemed empty will be subject to a tax of 1% of the property’s assessed taxable value. According to the City of Vancouver’s website, net revenues from the Empty Homes Tax will be reinvested into affordable housing initiatives.

Here are the details on the penalties and fines for not submitting a declaration, paying late or not paying, and false declarations.

The city staff will continue to host information sessions around the city up until the end of January. You can stay posted on the events here.

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