Speculation Tax: Local leaders tell province to let them decide
Local governments, not the province, should determine whether to impose a speculation tax on vacant properties, B.C. municipal leaders have agreed. But Finance Minister Carole James said the provincial government plans to move ahead with the new tax.
Delegates to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler have overwhelmingly supported a resolution put forward by Oak Bay calling on the province to replace the proposed speculation tax by giving local governments authority to collect a levy on vacant residential properties if they choose.
Langford Mayor Stew Young, who supported Oak Bay’s resolution, said the housing market is already slowing down and the imposition of a speculation tax could send it into “free-fall.” “If you put in a spec tax in a down economy, artificially, by the government, then you’re going to have a real problem. You’ll never recover,” Young said.
The speculation tax was announced in the Feb. 20 budget. It adds a surcharge on second homes that are vacant in certain communities, but provides exemptions if the property is rented at least six months of the year or is valued at less than $400,000. Starting next year, owners who leave properties vacant would be charged a surtax of 0.5 per cent of assessed value for 2018.
That would increase to two per cent of assessed value in 2019 for foreign investors and “satellite families,” one per cent for Canadian citizens and permanent residents who don’t live in B.C., and 0.5 per cent for B.C. residents who are citizens or permanent residents.
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