Vancouver's Empty Homes Tax to increase by 75% over three-year period

Nov 28 2019, 10:30 am

The City of Vancouver will see a notable increase in its Empty Homes Tax over the next three years.

On Wednesday afternoon, Vancouver City Council voted and approved a phased increase of the Empty Homes Tax (EHT), which came into effect in 2017.

Vancouver’s EHT will see a 25% increase during the 2020 tax year, growing it from 1.0% to 1.25%. There will also be increases of 25% during the 2021 and 2022 tax year, resulting in a 75% increase over a three-year span.

According to a release from the City of Vancouver, additional revenue from the increase will be used on enforcement efforts as well as providing “affordable housing for households with income of less than $50,000 a year.”

“I’m pleased that Council supported my call for a phased increase to the Empty Homes Tax of 25% each year for the next three years,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart in an email. “While the ultimate goal is to add more pressure on empty homes to be filled, any additional revenues will now be used to provide housing for Vancouver’s most vulnerable residents.”

The approval, however, comes after a report from city staff that recommended against any increases.

“Based on the consultation with tax experts, housing experts, the public, and other stakeholders, the tax is working mostly as intended and minimal further amendments are recommended at this time,” reads the report from city staff. “The data also supports this conclusion with key indicators showing trends that point to the tax working to encourage occupancy.”

Another key reason found in the report is how the city’s tax would be impacted by the provincial government’s speculation and vacancy tax.

“Experts also strongly cautioned that an increase in EHT rate at this stage would likely increase the potential for noncompliance and evasion, particularly for properties that are also paying the new provincial speculation tax.”

A bylaw change, which is required to confirm the rate increase for 2020, will take place at a later date.