Didn't fill out your form? Expect a speculation tax bill in the mail
Ninety-four per cent of B.C.'s 1.6 million homeowners filled out their B.C. Speculation and Vacancy Tax form by the March 31st deadline and even though that means 96,000 didn't, Finance Minister Carole James says it's still pretty good.
"For a brand new tax that's extraordinary," she said of the return rate.
The government estimates only about a third of those who didn't report are the actual targets of the new tax. As for the other 64,000 who aren't speculators, the province says it will grant them a grace period.
"If people have extenuating circumstances — perhaps they lost the form, or they weren't in town,or they didn't realize both they and their spouse, if they're on the title, had to fill it out — they'll now get a reminder letter," said James.
Minister will meet with mayors
There are still many who oppose the speculation and vacancy tax altogether, which was introduced to cool B.C.'s hot housing market.
It applies to people who own vacant properties in major urban centres where home prices and rents have skyrocketed out of reach for many residents and is designed to turn empty homes into housing.
Foreign homeowners are required to pay two per cent of the assessed value of their home, while Canadians will have to pay 0.5 per cent.
Some communities are exempt, including Whistler and Harrison Hot Springs. But others argue they shouldn't have to pay the speculation tax either.
Belcarra's mayor has long insisted residents in his tiny community are being unfairly targeted because many simply can't rent out their places.
"These are often summer cabins. There's no running water. There's no heat — often water-access only, if not limited access. These people are being forced to sell their cottages because of the speculation tax," said Neil Belenkie.
He's pleaded with the province to exclude his village too, but says the NDP has not yet budged. The finance minister says she'll meet with mayors this summer to discuss their concerns.
"They'll have a chance to be able to bring their data to the table," James told reporters Wednesday. "Then we'll determine if any changes need to be made."
That meeting is expected to happen at the end of June or beginning of July.