Mayors join finance minister to discuss, share feedback on landmark tax

Homeowners encouraged to prepare for SVT declarations

January 19, 2023 at 4:36 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

People with residential properties in some areas with the highest demand in the province will soon receive their 2023 speculation and vacancy tax (SVT) declaration letter.

Homeowners in the Metro Vancouver Regional District, the Capital Regional District, Abbotsford, the District of Mission, Chilliwack, Kelowna, West Kelowna, Nanaimo and the District of Lantzville will receive their letters by the end of February and have until March 31, 2023, to file.

The tax was introduced in B.C. in 2018 to curb speculation that drives up prices and to encourage people to rent out their vacant homes.

“The speculation and vacancy tax is working. We’ve seen thousands of empty condos return to the rental market in Metro Vancouver alone,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Finance. “While some would cancel the speculation tax altogether and let speculators back into our housing market, we will be expanding it to additional communities next year, and we’ll continue to strengthen it to help provide much-needed homes for people and families.”

Next year’s SVT communities will include residential property owners in North Cowichan, Lake Cowichan, Duncan, Ladysmith, Lions Bay and Squamish. People in those communities will receive their first letter in 2024 when they will need to declare for the first time. This will offer owners with vacant residential properties in the expansion areas time to change the use of their property to help ensure they are eligible for an exemption.

Exemption eligibility is based on how owners use their property during the year. For example, if a property owner uses their unit as a principal home, rents it out for more than six months of the year or meets other rental exemption criteria, they are exempt from paying the tax.

“In the wake of soaring prices and record migration, we’re taking on important work to help people find good homes in B.C., and the speculation tax is one of the ways we’re ensuring people have access to much-needed homes in their communities,” Conroy said. “The expansion is just the beginning. We will continue to look at ways to build on the benefits of the speculation tax to keep houses as homes for people and not revenue generators for speculators.”

The Province has also announced a new one-stop permitting strategy to remove provincial barriers to building new housing. A new task force will prioritize the most-needed projects, such as Indigenous projects, multi-unit applications and projects in municipalities that are subject to the SVT.

Quick Facts:

  • More than 99% of people who live in B.C. were exempt from paying the SVT tax in 2022 and the same is expected in 2023.
  • If owners are not exempt, they will need to pay their assessed amount by July 4, 2023, to avoid a 10% penalty and interest.
  • While the money raised through the SVT has decreased each year since 2019 as market and owner behaviour have changed, the Province has been increasing housing investments.
  • Since 2018, the tax has raised more than $313 million to help fund new, more affordable types of housing in SVT communities.
  • During the same period, more than $3.9 billion has been allocated for new housing in those same communities.
  • People are not able to declare until they have their SVT declaration letter that includes an ID and code needed to file online or over the phone.

Learn More:

To securely declare online after a declaration letter has been received and to find information about available exemptions:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/taxes/speculation-vacancy-tax

If people have questions or need help completing the declaration over the phone, they can call 833 554-2323 (toll-free in Canada and the U.S.) or 604 660-2421 (international).

As of Jan. 20, 2023, call centre hours will be Monday to Sunday, 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. (Pacific time). Service will be available in multiple languages.

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