Now that nearly all declarations of exemption from the Speculation and Vacancy Tax (SVT) have been filed, the BC provincial government states that more than 99% of residents will not be paying the controversial tax.

According to data released by the provincial Ministry of Finance, 80% of those required to pay the SVT are foreign owners, satellite families, and Canadians living outside of B.C.

While those who wish to claim this exemption were originally given a deadline of March 31st, 2019, the province now states that it is not too late to file a declaration.

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“There is still time for owners to complete their declaration and claim an exemption without penalty,” reads a statement from the Ministry.

“Owners who do not complete a declaration will receive a tax notice of assessment before the end of May reminding them of their requirement to complete a declaration.”

This declaration must be filed in order to claim an exemption or to determine eligibility for a tax credit. Those who are not exempt will have to pay the assessed amount by July 2nd.

The fastest way to complete this declaration is online on the Speculation and Vacancy Tax website.

Municipalities subjected to the Speculation and Vacancy Tax includes:

  • Capital Regional District (excluding Salt Spring Island, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area and the Southern Gulf Islands)
  • Nanaimo
  • Lantzville
  • Metro Vancouver Regional District (excluding Bowen Island, the Village of Lions Bay and Electoral Area A, but including the University of British Columbia and the University Endowment Lands)
  • Abbotsford
  • Mission
  • Chilliwack
  • Kelowna
  • West Kelowna

All property owners living in these areas are expected to fill out a declaration form. If a property has more than one owner, each person has to fill out their own declaration form – this includes spouses and common law partners.

Brief history and overview of the SVT

British Columbia’s new speculation tax is a part of the NDP government’s 30-point plan in the 2018 budget meant to ease the housing affordability crisis in the province.

The SVT is meant to target people who own secondary housing units in designated urban areas and leave them vacant for long periods of time, causing inflation in real estate prices.

“We are going after speculators who are clearly taking advantage of the market, leaving homes vacant and driving up prices,” said Minister of Finance, Carole James in a press release in October 2018.

Specifications and amendments to the original tax were announced after considerable protests arose from developers and people – not speculators – who own secondary vacation homes.

However, not everyone was satisfied with these amendments:

“After trying to implement taxes by trial and error, the NDP are now scrambling to come up with a plan,” says BC Liberal leader, Andrew Wilkinson.

“The updated version of this tax still doesn’t focus on speculators who are flipping homes and condos. Instead, the NDP introduced arbitrary boundary changes to exempted areas that appear to be politically motivated.”

Click here to read more about B.C.’s new speculation and vacancy tax.