More than 2,000 homeowners to be taxed under Vancouver’s empty homes tax

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Over 2,100 undeclared empty homes face tax

Stephanie Ip
The Vancouver Sun

More than 2,000 residential properties went undeclared, have been deemed unoccupied and will be taxed under Vancouver’s empty homes tax.

Assuming that each property is worth about $1 million — many of them are condos — that would raise about $21 million in tax revenue for the city.

The city had extended its declaration deadline to March 5, to allow homeowners extra time to declare whether their property was occupied or unoccupied during 2017.

According to the results provided on Wednesday, a total of 183,911 property status declarations were submitted, representing more than 98 per cent of the city’s homeowners.

Of those, a total of 177,562 were occupied either by an owner or a tenant. A total of 6,349 were either declared vacant by the owner or claimed an exemption — and many of them could also end up being taxed. The city did not indicate how many of those would end up being subject to the tax and did not offer a breakdown of the two categories. 

The 2,132 homes that were undeclared and deemed vacant will be issued a tax bill this month, with a payment deadline of April 16. Homes that were declared vacant will also be issued a tax bill.

The empty homes tax is one per cent of the property’s assessed taxable value.

“Specific declaration numbers, such as the number of exempt or vacant declarations, are subject to change as the Empty Homes Tax audit program progresses,” according to a statement from the city.

“The number of exempt declarations, therefore, will not be confirmed until audits have been conducted and complaints for 2017 have been submitted. These specific declaration numbers will be released, along with the revenue raised by the tax, in an Annual Report to Council which will be distributed in fall of 2018.”

Of the nearly 8,500 homes that were declared vacant, condos accounted for 60.6 per cent while single-family homes made up 33.5 per cent. Multi-family properties and other types of housing accounted for just 5.9 per cent.

The city will now conduct audits to verify declarations. Those who receive a vacancy tax bill and believe they are being incorrectly taxed can file a notice of complaint with the city to have their case reviewed.

The city is expected to provide figures on how much tax is raised through the empty homes tax in the fall.

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