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Speculation and vacancy tax to taking effect in new communities on Vancouver Island

Last summer, the BC government announced that the speculation and vacancy tax would be applied to new communities in 2023, and now homeowners are advised that there are steps they can take to avoid paying the tax next year.

The tax now includes the municipalities of North Cowichan, Duncan, Ladysmith, Lake Cowichan, Lions Bay and Squamish.

The purpose of the tax is to help eliminate speculative real-estate practices and turn empty housing into homes for people.

In the 2023 tax year, there are 46 communities with the speculation and vacancy tax (SVT).

An estimated 48,000 residential property owners in these new areas will declare for the first time, starting January 2024.‚Äč

For residential property owners who are not currently using their property, there are opportunities to still be eligible for an exemption next year.

For example, owners who rent their home six or more months each year, for at least a month at a time, may be eligible. People who use their property as a principal home, and pay their taxes in BC, are also eligible for exemption.

Property owners in these areas will need to declare in early 2024, based on the use of their property in 2023.

90% of people who live in BC can expect to be exempt for the 2023 tax year, but homeowners in these areas will be required to declare for the SVT.

"The people who call Duncan home know that we are facing the same housing pressures of larger centres. We need to increase supply and ensure the housing we have is used as homes," said Michelle Staples, mayor of Duncan. "The speculation and vacancy tax will help increase the available housing, which is badly needed."

The Province says SVT revenue goes back into regions where the tax applies.

“Since 2018, the SVT has raised more than $313 million to help build new, more affordable types of housing,” the ministry of finance says.

About 1.7 million declarations will be completed as part of the 2024 SVT declaration period that will begin in January 2024.

Areas benefiting from the SVT since 2018 include Kelowna, Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, West Kelowna, Nanaimo and Lantzville.

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