by Paolo Taruc
The Vancouver government has warned owners of empty homes to declare such properties in their tax forms, lest they face a fine. The “Empty Homes Tax” comes amid a slew of efforts by the city to address its housing crisis.
There are some 25,000 empty and under-occupied properties in the city, which back homes for people who live and work there, according Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Housing is for homes first, and as business and investments second – we need a tax on empty homes to encourage the best use of all our housing, and help boost our rental supply for locals,” he said in a statement released Tuesday.
“Vancouver renters are in crisis, with the rental vacancy rate hovering over zero for years,” Robertson added.
Owners of empty homes will have until 2 February next year to declare their properties. If they fail to do so, a statement from the city said will have their properties deemed vacant and will be subject to the tax at a rate of 1% of the property’s 2017 assessed taxable value. The owners will also be fined $250 for the non-declaration.
On the other hand, those who make false claims can face a fee of up to $10,000 per day, Reuters reported.
Every owner of Class 1 Residential property in the city is required to submit a property status declaration each year to determine if their property is subject to the Empty Homes Tax. Notifications are being mailed out throughout this month to more than 180,000 residential property owners. According to the government, most homeowners will not be subject to the levy, as it does not apply to:
- principal residences
- properties rented for at least six months of the year
- properties that are eligible for one of eight exemptions
Apart from the Empty Homes Tax, the government has also approved a record number of new rental homes to increase the supply of rentals, with more than 7,000 approved in the last five years.
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