Starting this year, penalties will be handed to residential property owners who do not pay the speculation and vacancy tax by the due date, if they do not qualify for an exemption.
However, if a property is used by the owner as their principal residence – where they live most of the year – and they are a citizen or permanent resident of Canada, then they are exempt from paying the tax.
“More than 99.9 per cent of British Columbians are exempt from paying the tax, but residential property owners in the taxable regions have to declare,” said the Ministry of Finance.
Home owners in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows can expect to receive their speculation and vacancy tax, (SVT), declaration packages in the mail starting Jan. 27.
The annual tax on empty homes in B.C. was initiated in 2019 to address the housing crisis.
Home owners must declare an exemption from the tax in order to avoid paying a tax of 0.5 per cent of their property’s assessed value, if they are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, or two per cent if they are foreign owners.
However, all owners on the title – including spouses and relatives – must complete a declaration in order to claim an exemption or to determine eligibility for a tax credit.
Corporations must also complete a declaration for all residential properties in taxable regions.
The goal of the tax is to turn empty homes into housing for people who live and work in the province, in addition to supporting provincial housing initiatives.
Property owners in other parts of the Lower Mainland should start to receive their packages starting Jan. 19 with most homeowners receiving them by the end of February.
The declaration should take less than 10 minutes to complete and must be completed by Mar. 31.
Owners who do not qualify for an exemption must pay their assessed amount by Jul. 2.
The quickest way to complete a declaration is online at gov.bc.ca/spectax.
“Everyone deserves an affordable place to call home, yet house prices and rent have skyrocketed out of reach for too many people,” read the B.C. government website.
If homeowners do not receive a declaration package and believe they should have, they should contact the SVT call centre to request a package.
For more information call: 833 554-2323 (toll-free in Canada and the U.S.) or 604 660-2421 (international), from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (PST) Monday to Sunday.
Service is available in multiple languages.