People who own homes in Kelowna and West Kelowna will once again need to declare their exemption from the province’s speculation and vacancy tax.
Declaration packages are expected to arrive between Jan. 24 and Feb. 21 and must be completed by March 31.
“Based on the first successful year of the speculation and vacancy tax, we expect more than 99 per cent of British Columbians to be exempt from the tax, while speculators, foreign owners and people who leave their home vacant will continue to pay as intended,” said Carole James, minister of finance.
“The revenue generated will help create affordable housing solutions for the people who live and work where this tax applies.”
Residential property owners can complete their declaration as soon as they receive their package, which will include an informational brochure and letter. You can complete the form online at gov.bc.ca/spectax.
All owners on the title must complete a declaration in order to claim an exemption or to determine eligibility for a tax credit. Non-exempted owners must pay the assessed amount by July 2. In addition to previous exemptions, military families and those with water-access-only properties will be exempt.
“Some would have us give tax breaks to speculators and return to out-of-control housing price increases, but we’re committed to cracking down on speculation and increasing affordable housing options,” said James. “We’re beginning to see moderation in the housing market, and over the past year, we’ve seen more rental condos being put on the market and an increase in purpose-built rentals. These are encouraging signs for making housing more affordable for families in B.C.”
In September 2019, a year after the tax’s implementation, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran said he was not a fan, citing the tax’s arbitrary nature and confusion on how the money is meant to come back to the municipalities it was taken from.
“From our position in Kelowna, it hasn’t gone well,” he said. “How were we selected? Why were some selected while others weren’t?
“There is no policy that states which municipalities should have this and which shouldn’t. We don’t know any of these criteria.”
While the provincial government touts 99 per cent of British Columbian’s being exempt from the tax, West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom said his city’s experience has been different.
“I don’t think they really did their due diligence,” he said in September. “We knew, by individuals filing their property taxes, as to whether or not they were foreign owners. We realized very quickly that this tax would impact mainly Canadians.”
According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s 2019 rental report, Kelowna’s vacancy rate went from 1.9 per cent in 2018 to 2.7 per cent in 2019. In 2017, that number hit a low of 0.2 per cent.
Province-wide, BC Housing data confirms nearly 30 per cent of units registered in 2019 were purpose-built rentals, compared to 16.4 per cent in 2018.