City releases stats on Empty Homes Tax declarations: 8,481 unoccupied/under-utilized residential properties

City HallToday the City of Vancouver issued a news release on homeowner declarations for the Empty Homes Tax, after extending the initial deadline an extra month to March 5, 2018. Note that the numbers are subject to revision after auditing. Tax bills will be issued in mid-March, for payment by April 16.

More information:

Some of the information released:

Declaration statistics for 2017

  • 183,911 property status declarations submitted [the City says this is 98.85% of the total, which we calculate as 186,050 properties]
  • 177,562 occupied residential properties (declared principal residence and declared tenanted)
  • 8,481 unoccupied/under-utilized residential properties (declared vacant, declared exempt and undeclared/deemed vacant). Note that this includes 2,132 undeclared residential properties. [CHW: This means that 4.6% of the total fit into this category. If declarations are honest, how does this compare to other major cities in Canada?]

The City says this first year of implementation of the tax provides an important baseline to compare with future results and understand how the tax is influencing the behaviours of property owners.


Note on “unoccupied/under-utilized residential properties”: These were declared or deemed to be unoccupied/under-utilized for more than 180 days in 2017. It includes properties that were declared vacant, plus properties that claimed one of the various exemptions to the tax. (Exemptions include renovation, redevelopment, title transferred during the year, or owner residing in a hospital, long term or supportive care facility.)

Properties undeclared by the March 5 deadline are also included in the number of unoccupied/under-utilized residential properties. These undeclared properties have been deemed vacant and are therefore subject to the Empty Homes Tax.

Declared and deemed vacant properties will be issued a Vacancy Tax bill in mid-March with payment due by April 16, 2018.

Of the 8,481 unoccupied/under-utilized property types and locations, the majority (60.6%) were condominiums, followed by single-family residential properties (33.5%), and multi-family/other properties (5.9%).

The largest number of unoccupied/under-utilized properties was in Downtown Vancouver. The West End and Shaughnessy had the highest percentages of unoccupied properties relative to the number of residential properties in each neighbourhood that were required to declare.

The Empty Homes Tax audit program is underway. Using a risk-based approach, as well as random audits, the program has a goal of verifying property status declarations and encouraging compliance with the new tax. As the program progresses, 2017 property status statistics may be subject to change as the audits are completed and reveal whether property owners can provide sufficient evidence to support their declarations.

As required by the Vancouver Charter, the City will report on the revenue raised by the Empty Homes Tax in an Annual Report to Council, which will be released in the fall of 2018.

Appeals process
Property owners who receive a Vacancy Tax bill and feel they have been incorrectly taxed may submit a Notice of Complaint to the City and have their case reviewed by the Vacancy Tax Review Officer. A Notice of Complaint may be submitted on the basis that either the property owner or the City made an error or omission that resulted in the property being taxed.

The Vacancy Tax Review Office will review all complaints and use the information provided to gain insight on the impact of the tax and to influence future bylaw amendments.


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