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Empty-homes tax might go even higher than original two per cent proposed, with higher penalties

September 20th, 2016 · 9 Comments

Vancouver councillors debated the proposed empty-homes tax this morning, with some unexpected results. (Well, at least to me, so perhaps I’m clueless.)

The NPA councillors came out AGAINST the tax, which I thought would have been seen as very popular with their base. (See my story for their various reasons.)

And then Vision councillors started making noises about considering an even higher rate for the empty-homes tax than the max two per cent of assessed value that staff had recommended. Plus penalties higher than the current $10,000 that is the most Vancouver can charge anyone for any bylaw violation.

Things continue to evolve.

Along with all that, many more questions and unique scenarios continued to arise. Just to take you through various bits and pieces I’ve now learned:

  • Airbnb doesn’t count as occupancy. So if someone gets audited and they’re not living at the unit, they need to prove they’re renting it out to avoid the tax. And showing revenue from Airbnb rentals won’t count.
  • As long as one unit on a residential (single-family-house-type) property is occupied, the others can be vacant. So someone could live in a laneway house and leave the main house empty and not be charged the tax. An owner who decides to leave a basement suite or laneway house empty won’t be charged.
  • Not decided yet how many months someone will have to occupy a unit to avoid the tax. Kathleen Llewellyn-Thomas, the new general manager of community services, was suggesting nine months might be the cut-off.

Happy to try to answer other questions you might come up with about unique scenarios.

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