Couple billed $6K in B.C. speculation tax, believes retirees targeted unfairly

Retiree has lived in Mitchell Street home for 67 years

Denise Pettersson Simpson has been living in the bright yellow house on Mitchell Street since she was five.

The 72-year-old took the house over when her mom died in 1993 and has since lived in it, off and on, with her husband Robert Simpson, 93.

Simpson is a U.S. citizen and retired U.S. Army veteran, while Pettersson Simpson worked her entire life in the U.S. on permit and now retains her Canadian citizenship. The two have split their retired lives between their Mitchell Street home and San Antonio, Tx.

This year the couple was served a $6,000 bill for speculation tax due in part to their U.S. residency and to Simpson’s name on title. They live off of retirement pensions, including a tax free pension that Simpson receives for suffering career-ending injuries in battle.

READ MORE: Taxes force sale of Oak Bay’s ‘Tulip House’

They told the Oak Bay News they don’t know how they’ll be able to afford the house, especially if the speculation tax increases to 2 per cent, which foreign owners pay (both names are on the house title).

“The speculation tax doesn’t go far enough,” Pettersson Simpson said. “I imagine there are a lot of retired people who can’t afford this tax, people who are on retirement income. Unless you’re really wealthy, then it doesn’t matter.”

In other words, the speculation and vacancy tax squeezes the middle class out of their retirement plan but not the upper class who can afford it.

“Our mortgages are paid off,” Pettersson Simpson said. “There’s no reason we can’t own two houses. We paid for them. I want to keep my childhood home.

“It’s telling Americans that they are not welcome unless they spend a whole ton of money.”

The most prominent solution to the speculation and vacancy tax is to rent out the house. Not only do the two not rent out their house, at this stage in their life, they can barely comprehend the idea. They tend visit for about four to eight weeks at a time.

If they wanted to, they would have planned for it decades ago. The house is full of their personal effects — Pettersson Simpson regularly boxes and sells or donates things from the house — and they’re not in a position in their life to start new, Pettersson Simpson said.

READ ALSO: New B.C. residents not exempt from speculation and vacancy tax

“It doesn’t prevent speculation, people with money can still speculate,” she said.

The house and land are valued at $1.2 million by B.C. Assessment, yet the house is only valued at $218,000.

“If I tore it down I wouldn’t have to pay the tax,” she said.

In her eyes, that would be speculation.

“There’s a lot of retired people who are in similar situation. We can’t rent it now, there’s nowhere to put everything, we have to start getting rid of stuff. This is not what we had planned on.

Simpson pointed out they’ve already weathered 25 years of rising property taxes.

“I hope others who are retired and in this position can speak up,” she said.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

Just Posted

Downtown Kelowna Library sponsors Sugarplum Ball

The Sugarplumball is part of the OUT in the Valley festival in November

Joe Rich firefighters raise thousands of dollars for food bank

Joe Rich firefighters out in full force last Sunday to raise money for 15th annual community food drive

Lake Country burglars on the loose after attempted robbery

Two masked individuals tried to empty the Turtle Bay Pub’s ATM on Monday morning

Canadian car crash victims to be honoured at Kelowna event

Not-for-profit “One Crash is Too Many” will be hosting event at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Orchard Parking Mall lot

Petition launched against location of new West Kelowna firehall

A Lakeview Heights resident has started an online petition

RCMP cut free activists chained to Kelowna bank, placed under arrest

The group is protesting Interior Savings Credit Union’s support of Kelowna Ribfest

Two-vehicle Okanagan crash ‘looks worse than it is’

Nobody injured in Vernon accident that happened just before 5 p.m. in middle of city

Kamloops woman sues Armstrong IPE for Slingshot mishap

Woman claims ride gone wrong caused injury, loss of wages and other damages

UPDATED: Vancouver Island’s Joe gets suspended sentence in Teddy the dog cruelty case

Melissa Tooshley expected in court on Thursday in same case

Alleged drunk driver survives crash into Kettle River

The crash happened Saturday near Grand Forks

Woman ‘horrified’ after being told to trek 200 kilometres home from Kamloops hospital

‘I can’t get from Kamloops back to 100 Mile House injured, confused… no shoes, no clothes whatsoever’

Canadian universities encourage exchange students in Hong Kong to head home

UBC said 11 of its 32 students completing programs in Hong Kong have already left

Inner Peace Movement comes to Kelowna

Philip Ponchet will give two talks on Nov. 26

Most Read