B.C. raked in $115 mil­lion in va­cancy tax

The Prince George Citizen - - Money -

VAN­COU­VER — Bri­tish Columbia col­lected $115 mil­lion in the 2018-19 fis­cal year from home­own­ers who paid the prov­ince’s spec­u­la­tion and va­cancy tax.

As of Sept. 3, it says al­most 12,000 home­own­ers were pay­ing the tax, which tar­gets peo­ple who own va­cant prop­erty in B.C. The prov­ince says more than 1.6 mil­lion tax dec­la­ra­tions have been filed and its data shows 99.8 per cent of home own­ers are ex­empt from the levy.

Of those pay­ing the tax, the prov­ince says just over 4,500 were for­eign own­ers, about 3,000 were clas­si­fied as satel­lite fam­i­lies, some 1,500 were Cana­di­ans liv­ing out­side the prov­ince, and about 2,400 were B.C. res­i­dents.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Ca­role James is sched­uled to meet in Van­cou­ver today with may­ors from com­mu­ni­ties where the tax is applied to dis­cuss po­ten­tial changes this fall.

The tax is applied in com­mu­ni­ties in and around Vic­to­ria and Van­cou­ver, as well as other ar­eas that have had hot hous­ing mar­kets in­clud­ing Kelowna and Nanaimo.

Sev­eral com­mu­ni­ties have called on James to elim­i­nate the tax or of­fer ex­emp­tions be­cause they say it hurts devel­op­ment and pun­ishes home­own­ers with sec­ond prop­er­ties.

The tax rate for 2018 was 0.5 per cent of the as­sessed value for all prop­er­ties, ris­ing to two per cent in 2019 for for­eign own­ers and so-called satel­lite fam­i­lies, while Cana­dian cit­i­zens or per­ma­nent res­i­dents con­tinue to pay 0.5 per cent. Satel­lite fam­i­lies are de­fined as those that earn most of their in­come out­side of Canada.

The gov­ern­ment says the av­er­age as­sessed home value of prop­er­ties that are sub­ject to the tax is $1.45 mil­lion.

James said the money col­lected from the tax will be used to help fund af­ford­able hous­ing projects in the com­mu­ni­ties where it is applied.

“Our gov­ern­ment in­her­ited a prov­ince at the peak of a hous­ing crisis and com­mit­ted to tack­ling this crisis head-on,” James said. “The spec­u­la­tion and va­cancy tax is help­ing to make sure homes are be­ing used for peo­ple, not spec­u­la­tion or money laun­der­ing.”

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