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Free speculation and vacancy tax clinic for seniors in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Clinics to be held March 18 and 22
Notary public Lucy Meechan, left, and real estate agent Amanda Ashford have organized a free Speculation Tax Clinic for seniors. (Special to The News)

Help is now available for seniors who are unsure how to fill out their declaration for the B.C. speculation and vacancy tax.

Notary public Lucy Meechan and real estate agent Amanda Ashford have organized a free Speculation Tax Clinic for seniors.

The provincial speculation and vacancy tax is an annual tax based on how home owners use their residential properties. It was brought in to help with the current housing shortage crisis to ensure home owners are either living in their homes or renting them out and that foreign owners are paying their fair share in provincial taxes.

“We decided to do it mostly because I’ve had people coming to my office, whether it’s been an age barrier or sometimes a language barrier or even people who don’t have access to technology don’t actually know how to navigate their way through this system,” explained Meechan.

For those who do not declare – providing they are not a foreign owner nor an “untaxed worldwide earner’ but either a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada – they will owe the government 0.5 per cent of the property’s assessed value for that year.

And, Meechan said, what happens is eventually they start seeing people come into their office who have a speculation tax lien against their property because they didn’t file their declaration within a period of time.

“Then that opens a whole new set of obstacles when you have to go sell that house, or even if someone passes away and that house goes into probate because now you have to end up getting that speculation tax lien off the property,” said Meechan.

Meechan saw one couple who needed help because of a language barrier.

“They had no idea what this was, they didn’t know what to do, and they tried to reach out to the people who hold the speculation tax declarations and they were not getting answers,” said Meechan.

And she sees people who are trying to sell their homes but now have liens on their properties. She said they basically have to go back to back-dated speculation tax and try to get the liens off.

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“It just adds more steps and therefore more legal fees for these people in the process of trying to sell their homes,” she said.

The women will be holding two separate clinics. The first one will be held on Monday, March 18, from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at the Pitt Meadows Seniors Activity Centre at 19065 119b Avenue.

From 9-11 a.m. on Friday, March 22, they will be holding the second clinic at the Maple Ridge Seniors Activity Centre at 12150 224 Street.

Those attending need to bring their Notice of Declaration which they should have received in the mail.

The filing deadline for the speculation and vacancy tax is March 31.

“For me it was really important to offer some services out there in the community of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows so that we can help the people who are having a hard time getting through it, or just don’t have the access to technology to get through it, or even just to explain to people what this actually means,” added Meechan.

Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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