If you own residential property in the City of Vancouver, and you received a tax notice from the City in March advising that your property is subject to the City’s new Vacancy Tax, you only have until Monday, April 16, 2018, to appeal the decision or face a heavy tax bill.
As a way of addressing the effect of offshore purchasers driving up housing prices, the City of Vancouver announced the Vacancy Tax. Every owner of residential property in Vancouver is affected by this tax because the failure to report their property status every year, by February 2nd, their property will be deemed vacant and subject to the tax. The tax is targeted at empty or “under-utilized” properties only. It does not apply to principal residences, as well as properties rented out at least six months in the year. The tax is levied annually, is due and payable this year on April 16, and is equal to 1% of the appraised value of the property. Late payments are levied a penalty of 5%.
In addition to principal residences and rental properties in use at least 180 days in the last year, the exemptions will apply for:
- A property that is part of the estate of a deceased person, while the estate is being wound up
- A property that is under redevelopment or major renovations
- A property whose owner is in long term medical care
- A property that cannot be rented out due to a strata council rental restriction
- A property that is a secondary principal residence of someone who works in the city
- A property that is under a court order that prohibits its occupancy.
How the Process Works
Every year, before the end of the year, the city tax collector will send a Property Status Declaration form to each registered owner of residential property that appears on the city tax roll. Each owner then has until February 2nd to declare that their property is exempt.
After a very brief review period, the city will determine which properties it will subject to the tax, and must notify those owners by March 10th. If a property owner disagrees with this notice, they have until April 16th to file a “complaint.” The city tax office must consider the complaint within a “reasonable period,” at which point they will mail a decision to the owner. If the owner still disagrees with the decision, they have 21 days to request a review by the Vacancy Tax Review Panel, whose decision is final.
What Happens If You Forget to File Your Property Status Declaration on Time?
Failure to make a Property Status Declaration (on time) as required by the Bylaw results in both a $250 fine and your property being deemed vacant and subject to the tax. Unpaid tax is added to your next property tax bill.
Deadline to File a Complaint with the City
If you received a notice from the City of Vancouver that they consider your property to be subject to the Vacancy Tax, you only have until April 16, 2018, to file a complaint. If you don’t make the deadline, your property’s use is deemed vacant, and you will be levied the tax.