Impact of Empty Home Tax

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Written on October 6th, 2016


How will the Empty Home Tax impact Vancouver?

The City of Vancouver announced plans to implement a vacancy tax on home owners next year. The tax is an effort to address and provide some relief to the current rental market deficit.  Owners will have to prove they are actively living in the home.  Selling or renting will be the obvious solution however there are many unanswered questions as to whether this is a reasonable action to take.

One could certainly argue that the vacancy tax goes against fundamental property rights of the owners and why should the government be able to tell us what we can or cannot do with our purchased property.  I have been a supporter of Vision Vancouver but this is indeed an infringement on property rights and this concerns me.

Another good question to ask is how do they intend to enforce such a tax? Is the government preparing to hire a large number of new employees with large pensions to match?  Tackling our rental and housing dilemma is a huge undertaking in Vancouver and why wasn’t it dealt with prior to the overwhelming situation it has become.  Who chose this route and why wouldn’t these same leaders first choose to alter zoning restrictions and increase density?  Maybe there are logical action steps to take like building on top of industrial buildings that are at the bottom of Southwest Marine Drive from Cambie Street to Knight Street.

And once the tax is successfully collected, the questions remains as to whether it will be put towards the housing crisis.  The government intends on using the honour system.  Yes, the honourable will acquiesce, but what penalties are in place for those who decide to be less than honourable and trick the system?  According to the reports, the penalties have yet to be determined and again, the question also remains, who will be responsible for that department?  There is actually no set definition of the term “vacant” yet determined by the City.

We wait and wonder what we are in for now with even more unanswered questions after we just got blindsided by the 15% foreign buyer tax.  What next?