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With 11 days left, almost 4,000 Vancouver homeowners haven’t made empty home declarations

A map showing the concentration of Vancouver property owners who haven't made their empty homes declarations.
A map showing the concentration of Vancouver property owners who haven't made their empty homes declarations. City of Vancouver

Warning, to just under 4,000 Vancouver homeowners: you have 11 days to submit your Empty Homes Tax declarations to the city.

The warning came via a Thursday news release, in which the city announced it had extended the declaration deadline to March 5 so that the remaining two per cent of homeowners have a chance to avoid paying tax on their properties.

Coverage of empty homes on Globalnews.ca:

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“Almost all homeowners have already filed their Empty Homes Tax declarations, but the last two per cent will face unnecessary penalties if they don’t declare by March 5,” Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a news release.

“The city has done extensive advertising and notifications about the Empty Homes Tax for more than a year — all homeowners should know that they have to file a declaration, or their homes will be considered empty by default.”

About 182,000 Vancouver residential property owners have made Empty Homes Tax declarations, which they have to submit in order to avoid a tax of one per cent of the assessed value of their homes, if the property is left empty for more than six months of the year.

A empty home assessed at $1,000,000, for example, will face a $10,000 tax bill. Anyone who fails to make a declaration will also face a $250 penalty.

READ MORE: She owes Vancouver’s Empty Homes Tax on her condo, but she lives there 3 weeks per month

Most of the remaining declarations apply to homes that are primarily in the downtown core — of those, most are located in Yaletown, while Coal Harbour comes second and the West End third, the city said.

Those who don’t make their declarations will receive a vacancy tax notice and a bylaw notice sometime in mid-March, it added.

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Empty Homes Tax bills will be due by April 16, or else homeowners will face a late penalty of five per cent.

A seagull flies past Yaletown condos at sunset in Vancouver, on Feb. 25, 2013.
A seagull flies past Yaletown condos at sunset in Vancouver, on Feb. 25, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The Empty Homes Tax comes at a time when Vancouver has a rental vacancy rate of 0.9 per cent, and rents in the region are going for an average of $1,297 per month, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) said.

The city has introduced the measure in an effort to increase the rental stock.

But the tax has also created confusion for numerous Vancouver residents.

Midwife Kelly Hayes lives principally on Vancouver Island and uses a condo in the city as her base of operations when she works there.

She spends as many as three weeks in the condo per month, but she nevertheless owes an Empty Homes Tax bill of $7,800.

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Meanwhile, Jane MacDougall owns an empty lot in Kerrisdale; she faces a tax bill as high as $60,000.