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She owes Vancouver’s empty homes tax on her condo, but she lives there 3 weeks per month

Growing frustration over Empty Homes Tax
Homeowners are coming forward to complain that they're being forced to pay Vancouver's Empty Homes Tax on homes they actually live in part-time. Tanya Beja reports.

For up to three weeks out of every month, Kelly Hayes’ Vancouver condo is anything but empty.

As a midwife who delivers babies at St. Paul’s Hospital, she stores equipment there and lives in the unit part-time.

But Hayes and her husband make their principal home on Salt Spring Island. And because of that, they owe the City of Vancouver $7,800 in Empty Homes Tax.

Coverage of the empty homes tax on Globalnews.ca:

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“This is my home,” Hayes told Global News.

“This is what enables me to carry on in my career, to practise as a midwife.”

The tax bill is money they don’t have, she said. And it’s left her feeling “baffled” and “concerned” that they owe so much money on top of their property tax.

READ MORE: NPA Vancouver councillor hoping to amend empty homes tax bylaw

The City of Vancouver introduced the Empty Homes Tax as a way to stimulate more rental housing, and keep homeowners from leaving their units vacant.

The tax amounts to one per cent of a property’s assessed value if it’s been deemed empty.

NPA Coun. Melissa De Genova has called on the city to re-evaluate the tax and permit exemptions for homeowners who have become unintended targets.

“I think that we have to consider special circumstances here,” she said.

“It seems ridiculous to me that we’re charging an empty homes tax to people whose homes aren’t empty.”

Hayes has contacted a lawyer to help with her case; she’ll need an affidavit to prove that the condo is her home.

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“I want you to show me the evidence that you have a right to penalize someone like myself in order to fix a problem that was not something I or most of us had anything to do with,” she said.

The deadline to submit an empty homes tax declaration, which determines whether a person’s home is vacant, is March 5.