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B.C. government extends real estate speculation tax to Squamish and Duncan

Click to play video: 'Province expands speculation and vacancy tax to include more B.C. municipalities' Province expands speculation and vacancy tax to include more B.C. municipalities
The province is expanding the speculation and vacancy tax to include more municipalities. They say an independent review of the program shows it is working and helping to keep rents lower in urban areas. As Richard Zussman reports, resort areas where housing is also an issue are still not included. – Jul 20, 2022

The B.C. government is expanding the province’s speculation tax to include Squamish and Duncan but it will not include the resort community of Whistler.

The changes also include a speculation and vacancy tax in North Cowichan, Ladysmith, Lake Cowichan and Lions Bay.

The changes will start in 2023.

“People in these communities have been vocal about the pressures they are feeling. The expansion will help prevent speculation of moving from one place to another in a region,” BC Finance Minister Selina Robinson said.

“Over 99 per cent of British Columbians are exempt. The best way to avoid the tax is to use a home as a home.”

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‘I think it has been successful’: Premier John Horgan on B.C.’s speculation tax – Jan 14, 2021

A speculation tax was introduced in British Columbia in 2018 in an attempt to push homeowners into either renting or selling secondary properties.

The tax is currently in place in Metro Vancouver, the Capital Regional District, Kelowna and Nanaimo.

The province claims the tax led to property investors freeing up an estimated 20,000 rental homes for British Columbians.

Whistler and other resort-based communities have been exempted, even though there are rental pressures in many of those communities as well.

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Right now the province is not considering moving to a province-wide speculation tax.

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“When we started out we focused on major urban centres. We know there are unique challenges for resort communities and there are other tools to address those concerns. We have different communities with different needs,” Robinson said.

“We need to monitor to see how it is working.”

Currently, every B.C. homeowner must complete a declaration as to whether they’ve lived in their home for at least six months.

The tax is intended to identify foreign buyers but has also captured some British Columbians with vacation homes.

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“When we introduced the speculation tax it was the first of its kind in Canada. We applied it to urban regions with vacancy rates near zero. This tax is working as designed,” Robinson said.

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“The tax turned thousands of units into homes and reduced speculation. We promised we would continue to listen to housing experts.”

BC Liberal leader Kevin Falcon is opposed to the Speculation Tax, saying it does not actually target housing speculators.

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