B.C. Finance Minister Carole James. (Hansard TV)

Battle resumes over speculation tax on B.C. vacant homes

Opposition calls it ‘fake’ tax that is reducing housing supply

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James has delivered her promise to impose a speculation tax on homes that sit vacant more than half of the year, focused on urban areas with high housing prices and low rental vacancy rates.

The introduction of the tax bill prompted an immediate demand from the opposition to scrap the tax. B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson referred to mayors who objected to the tax at the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, calling it a “fake” tax that has targeted mostly B.C. residents and caused new housing developments to be cancelled.

James said she has met with mayors who called for the tax to be a local decision, and she’s moving ahead.

“We’ve seen examples of families being forced to live in tents, workers and seniors living in their cars and professionals leaving this province,” James told the legislature. “As a result, businesses can’t find the workers they need to keep our economy growing.”

RELATED: Mayors call for changes to speculation tax

James rolled back the extent of the tax in March after protests from vacation homeowners, exempting the Gulf Islands, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, the Juan de Fuca region in Premier John Horgan’s constituency and rural areas of the Fraser Valley and Central Okanagan.

The tax applies to Metro Vancouver (except Lions Bay and Bowen Island), Greater Victoria and the municipalities of Nanaimo, Lantzville, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, Kelowna and West Kelowna. It is to take effect based on 2018 assessed property values, at 0.5 per cent for B.C. residents, one per cent for Canadians whose principal residence is outside B.C., and two per cent for foreign owners and “satellite families” who don’t pay income tax in B.C.

A satellite family is defined as a family that resides in B.C. but reports half or more of its family income outside Canada. Non-resident Canadians are those who pay income tax in another province.

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver was among the critics who had the rural areas and islands removed from the tax area. He said Tuesday he is still concerned that the tax may land on property owners who are not speculators.

“I have been raising numerous examples of homeowners who are not speculators who are being unfairly impacted by this tax, and I will be looking to see whether government has addressed these concerns,” Weaver said after the legislation was presented. “In addition, I have raised concerns about the impact of this tax on land under development and its implementation in stratas with no-rental clauses.”

James has stressed that people can avoid the tax by renting out their second residence for half the year or more.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

‘City that protects rapists’: Sexual assault survivor slams Kelowna mayor for defending RCMP

Heather Friesen spent the morning handing out flyers around city hall calling out the mayor

Central Okanagan public schools address lead levels in district’s water

Secretary tresurer has sent letter to boad education members on updates to situation

City preparing new agricultural irrigation rates for Southeast Kelowna

Over 500 agriculture utility customers are preparing to transition to the city’s water system

Kelowna RCMP investigating assault outside strip club

A man was assaulted outside Liquid Zoo on Nov. 3

Developer proposes ‘eco-villa’ in West Kelowna

The quasi off-grid proposal includes building 16 residential units at 3060 Seclusion Bay Road

VIDEO: Kelowna brew pub opens new tasting room

Dan Taylor takes a tour of BNA’s renovated tasting room

Seguin lifts surging Stars to 4-2 win over Canucks

Dallas is 6-0-1 in last seven outings

B.C. government working with RCMP to address $10 million in budget cuts

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth issues statement following report of RCMP cost-cutting

Malakwa woman still in the running for winning American baking show

Janet Letendre is the only Canadian competing on the Holiday Baking Championship

BC Liquor Stores to move fully to paper bags by March

Vancouver Island to be the first to convert to paper bags in November

New Okanagan resident building skills and community

The Respect Works Here November Multicultural Community Champion

Business savy volunteers sought in North Okanagan

Community Futures looking for members to join advisory panel, board and loans committee

SilverStar to open Nordic trails Saturday in North Okanagan

25 km of groomed trails are ready to explore by cross-country skiers

Salmon Arm businesses tipped off to Black Press advantage

Black Press Media hosts day of presentations for local business representatives

Most Read