Owners of vacant residential properties in Vancouver will face a stiffer penalty next year.
Vancouver city council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve increasing the city’s Empty Homes Tax from three per cent to five per cent for the 2023 reference year.
The tax hike was proposed by Mayor Kennedy Stewart, who also spearheaded increasing the tax to three per cent last year.
The motion approved Wednesday will also see the city more than double the number of audits conducted under the program to 20,000 in 2023.
City staff were also directed to investigate what effects doubling it again to 10 per cent could have, and to assess changes to current exemptions to improve fairness so that people with legitimate reasons for vacancy are not penalized.
Staff were also tasked with probing how the tax could be used to crack down on short-term rental properties and how to counteract tax avoidance, as well as
The mayors office says preliminary data from the 2021 empty homes tax showed a decline in the number of vacant properties in the city and a doubling of revenue for affordable housing initiatives.
Vancouver’s empty homes tax first took effect in 2017 at one per cent of a home’s assessed value, and was tripled to three per cent in the 2021 tax year — a key campaign pledge in Stewart’s 2018 election campaign.
The city’s 2020 Empty Homes Tax Annual Report found the number of vacant properties in Vancouver fell by 26 per cent between 2017 and 2020.