A new year, but the same old problem for many in Metro Vancouver.
Finding affordable accommodation to buy or rent is an ever increasing challenge in Metro Vancouver, as prices continue to skyrocket and rumours swirl of units sitting empty.
But a team of UBC and SFU economists are pitching a solution: charge the absentee landlords.
UBC economics professor Tom Davidoff is one of the leading authors of the BC Housing Affordability Fund proposal, and says it’s about targeting owners who aren’t participating int he community.
“We’re not going to raise property taxes on everybody, but we’re going to write cheques to everybody that lives and works here to help with affordability and we’re going to fund that 100% by taxing people who don’t satisfy some very generous exemptions for people who have lived and worked here.”
The proposal, developed by a team from UBC’s Sauder School of Business and Vancouver School of Economics, along with colleagues from SFU, is for a 1.5% annual tax charged to owners who leave their units empty for all or most of the year, and who pay little or no Canadian income tax.
Davidoff says the tax would work to help increase housing stock by giving offshore investors a financial incentive to rent out their empty units.
“If you’re a landlord, every dollar of rental income you receive, either as a corporation or as an individual landlord, is deducted from your one-and-a-half-percent obligation.”
At the same time, he says the proposal would help offset high housing costs to locals by returning all of the proceeds collected as cash payments to people living in areas that had opted into the program.