Vancouver mayor proposes hiking empty homes tax to 5%

Click to play video: 'City of Vancouver passes empty home tax'
City of Vancouver passes empty home tax
WATCH: After more than four hours of debate on Wednesday, the City of Vancouver has passed an empty home tax. Catherine Urquhart was at city hall and has all the details – Nov 16, 2016

Vancouver’s mayor is proposing another increase to the city’s empty homes tax.

Kennedy Stewart is proposing increasing the levy from its current three per cent to five per cent. Council will debate the proposal at meetings scheduled for April 26 and 27.

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“We still have hundreds of homes declared vacant, and thousands more empty homes claiming exemptions,” Stewart said in a media release.

“While boosting the rate to five per cent should get more empty homes occupied by residents, we must increase audits and inspections to further clamp down on speculators.”

Click to play video: 'Federal politicians battle over housing affordability in B.C.'
Federal politicians battle over housing affordability in B.C.

Vancouver’s empty homes tax first took effect in 2017 at one per cent of a home’s assessed value, and was tripled to three per cent in the 2021 tax year — a key campaign pledge in Stewart’s 2018 election campaign.

Stewart said new data shows tripling the tax has led to a further decline in the number of empty homes in the city while doubling revenue from the program.

The city’s 2020 Empty Homes Tax Annual Report found the number of vacant properties in Vancouver fell by 26 per cent between 2017 and 2020.

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The city assessed $37.9 million in tax and penalties in 2020, according to the same report, and a total of $86.6 million since the program’s inception. Money collected from the tax is earmarked for affordable housing programs.

Vancouver completed 892 compliance audits in 2019, and found 5.5 per cent of properties were not in compliance with the tax.

Stewart is also proposing a tripling of the number of compliance audits.

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