British Columbia

Have you filed your B.C. speculation tax declaration? Time is running out

Homeowners have until the end of the week to let the government know their homes are not sitting empty, to avoid paying the 0.5 per cent tax.

Remaining 230,000 homeowners have until March 31 to declare that their homes aren't vacant

About 1.6 million British Columbians were sent letters asking them to declare whether their home was vacant in 2018. In the final week before the deadline to submit, about 230,000 still hadn't completed the declaration. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Are you one of the nearly 250,000 British Columbians who still hasn't submitted a speculation and vacancy tax declaration? You'd better hurry: the deadline is this Sunday, March 31.

According to the Ministry of Finance, more than 85 per cent of the 1.6 million property owners who received letters have completed their declaration, leaving about 230,000 outstanding, as the deadline looms.

The vast majority of British Columbians won't pay the tax, which amounts to 0.5 per cent of the assessed value of a qualifying home. It will affect less than one per cent of the population, according to the Finance Ministry.

The tax is focused on urban centres in the province, and applies to homes that were not occupied for at least three months in 2018. Many exemptions apply, even if a property was vacant.

If multiple owners are listed on a property's title, they're all expected to individually complete the declaration.

"The speculation and vacancy tax is an essential tool to help make sure people who live and work in B.C. have a place to call home," Finance Minister Carole James said in a written statement emailed by her office.

"We're asking people to help make housing more affordable by helping us identify vacant properties and ensuring foreign owners and satellite families are paying their fair share," said James.

It's unclear what will happen to property owners who fail to meet the deadline to declare. In Vancouver, where a similar but completely separate municipal tax applies, people who failed to submit their declarations by the Feb. 4 deadline faced a bylaw fine.

According to a member of the Finance Ministry staff, the details of the declaration process and possible consequences for people who don't get their declarations for the speculation tax filed are still being considered.

The ministry reported that more than 90 per cent of people who have completed their declarations did it online, in an average time of two to three minutes.

Though payment for the new tax isn't due until July 2, James said it's already having an effect on the housing market.

"Our plan is working. Since May, the home prices in Greater Vancouver have dropped in all segments of the market," she said.


Is there more to this story? Email rafferty.baker@cbc.ca

Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker

About the Author

Rafferty Baker is CBC Vancouver's mobile journalist. Follow him @raffertybaker

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