Empty Home Tax in British Columbia

Empty Home Tax in British Columbia | Fivewalls

Tips & Advice, Sellers
Last Updated: Jan 20, 2021

If you are looking to purchase a home in British Columbia, you may have heard of the Empty Home Tax. This article will help you understand how the empty home tax works, how to declare and calculate it, and what exemptions may apply.

What is the Vancouver, BC Empty Home Tax?

The BC Empty Home Tax applies to anybody who owns property in the city of Vancouver. This municipal tax was designed to reduce the number of vacant homes in the area, and the rate was just increased to 3% in 2021 – up from 1.25% in 2020. 

The Vancouver empty home tax is assessed using the value of the property on July 1st of every year. Homeowners will receive the assessment notice in January, and the information they include there will be used to determine the taxes.

For example, let’s assume that the property value of your home is $450,000. If the home is empty, you will be charged a 3% tax, for a total of $13,500.

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Speculation and Vacancy Tax

The speculation and vacancy tax are different than the empty home tax, and Vancouver residents are responsible for both. BC introduced this assessment at the end of 2018 as a direct result of the real estate crisis. 

Initially, all residential property owners were subject to a 0.5% tax if they qualified and were within one of the targeted regions. 

The current speculation and vacancy rate for foreign owners and satellite families is 2% of the prior year’s property value. If you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident that is not a member of a satellite family, the rate drops to 0.5% 

Which Regions Do The Speculation and Vacancy Tax Apply To?

If you live in any of the following areas, the BC speculation and vacancy tax apply to you:

  • Metro Vancouver Regional District
  • Chilliwack
  • Kelowna and West Kelowna
  • Capital Region District (CRD)
  • Abbotsford
  • Nanaimo
  • Districts of Mission and Lantzville

Homeowners that live outside of these taxable regions will not be required to pay the speculation and vacancy tax. 

Who Is Eligible For An Exemption To The Speculation and Vacancy Tax?

Even if you live in one of the regions described above, you may qualify for an exemption from the speculation tax. For instance, if the home is your primary residence you will not be required to pay it. 

Other common exemptions include spouses that live apart because of work, medical reasons, or if you are separated or divorced. You may also be exempt if the home is occupied by a tenant for over six months.

Declaration Process for the BC Empty Home Tax

When you own a home in one of the designated taxable regions, you are required to file a declaration regarding your residency status each year. This form must be filled out annually because circumstances may change over time. 

The declaration is due on March 31st, and you can expect to receive your declaration letter in January or February. The letter will ask you how you used the property within the last year and includes questions about your income. 

If you are determined to the tax, you must pay by the first business day in July. 

The empty home tax in BC applies to several regions in the province. If you own a residential property that is not your primary resident – or that remains empty – you may be required to pay the empty home tax, as well as the speculation and vacancy tax. 

Other Real Estate Resources You May Be Interested In

A Guide on How to Buy A Home

First Time Home Buyer Incentives and Tips in Canada

Land Transfer Tax in Ontario

Land Transfer Tax in British Columbia

Mortgage Pre-Approval Process in Canada

What is Title Insurance?


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