Advertisement

Toronto vows to waive vacant home tax late fees after rollout ‘mess’

Click to play video: 'Residents confused and angry amidst Toronto vacant home tax debacle'
Residents confused and angry amidst Toronto vacant home tax debacle
WATCH: Thousands of Toronto homeowners may be getting tax bills under the city’s vacant home tax program even though they still live there. Seán O’Shea explains who has been charged and what went wrong. – Apr 4, 2024

Anyone who was wrongly hit with a late fee for failing to submit details under Toronto’s vacant home tax is being told to ignore the charge as the city grapples with a chaotic rollout.

In a statement late on Thursday, a City of Toronto spokesperson said late fees will be “immediately waived for anyone who states they completed the declaration” on time.

The mayor and budget chief are also planning to work to waive the late fee for everyone charged under the vacant home tax this year.

Toronto’s vacant home tax was brought in at the end of 2021 to try and push investors to either sell empty homes or put them on the rental market.

Every year, homeowners in Toronto are asked to declare if their home is vacant or lived in before a deadline. The homes that are deemed to be vacant then face an extra tax.

Story continues below advertisement

Administering the tax ran into issues from the start of 2024. The city extended the deadline to declare from its original Feb. 29 date after just 63 per cent of homes filled in the paperwork they needed.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

The latest rollout has been called a “mess” by Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow, who apologized after some who had actually filled in the paperwork to confirm they lived in their homes were hit with vacant home tax bills worth thousands.

“I personally came to city hall and filled out my declaration that I live on the property so it’s not vacant,” said homeowner Florips Bajouco, who received a vacant home tax bill for the house she lives in.

“We are all being targeted. It’s time-consuming, it’s a nuisance.”

Many who felt they had been wrongly charged were at city hall on Thursday to set the record straight. Some say they were then charged a fee for declaring the rate after the vacant bill was wiped.

On Thursday evening, the city reiterated that those fees do not have to be paid.

“The late fee will be immediately waived for anyone who states that they completed the declaration before the Friday, March 15 deadline,” a spokesperson said.

Chow vowed that the tax — which she voted to raise to three per cent last year — will be improved, claiming the issues predate her mayoralty.

Story continues below advertisement

“We are cleaning up this mess, I apologize,” she said. “By the time I arrived here, the system was set up.”

— with files from Global News’ Sean O’Shea

Sponsored content

AdChoices