B.C. announces speculation and vacancy tax on 13 more communities

The B.C. government says more than a dozen additional communities will be subject to the province’s speculation and vacancy tax.

Finance Minister Katrine Conroy and Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon announced Wednesday that the tax is being expanded to 13 more communities; Vernon, Coldstream, Penticton, Summerland, Lake Country, Peachland, Courtney, Comox, Cumberland, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Salmon Arm, and Kamloops.

“There is a housing crisis across the country and it is creating economic challenges, including people feeling pushed out of their communities and labour shortages,” said Conroy.

“With so many people struggling to find secure housing, we have to keep taking action. The speculation tax is one of the ways we can help increase affordable housing options for people and communities.”

The province says it will be giving owners a year to plan. Residential property owners in the communities affected by the tax will need to declare in January 2025 based on how they used their property in 2024.

This coming January, six other communities, including Lions Bay and Squamish, will be subject to the tax.

Owners do not have to pay tax on primary residences, homes with long-term tenants, and in the event of life events like divorce.

The province adds “more than 99 per cent of people living in B.C. are exempt from paying the tax.”

The goal of the tax, the government says, is to have empty properties or those only used once in a while for vacation returned to being used by people to live in full time.

A review of the program presented in 2022 found that the tax helped deliver more than 20,000 homes in Metro Vancouver alone, Conroy says.

“We have made enormous success in the communities where [the tax] has been applied, thousands of homes are now being lived in become of this. It has been making a difference in these communities and we have to keep going,” Kahlon added.

The Wednesday announcement comes a day after the federal government presented its fiscal update, which includes a large focus on housing.

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