While the City of Vancouver and the province start talks on an empty homes tax proposal, City Council is already putting the gears in motion.
Council voted today to formally press the province to take the tax on, but affirmed the city will move forward with its own proposal if no deal is inked by August 1st.
Councillors also got their first look at some of the the potential nuts and bolts of how such a tax would work.
Nuts and bolts
A report to Council back in March identified about 10,000 empty homes in Vancouver, 90% of them condos. Meanwhile, the city’s rental vacancy rate is hovering around 0.6%.
The city says ideally all of them which are unoccupied for more than one year would face an annual tax in order to encourage occupancy or rental.
The biggest challenge will be identifying homes that qualify for the tax.
Today’s report offered the first glimpse of how officials might do that.
The report says self identification would be bolstered by audits and a complaint process.
It also set out possible guidelines for exemptions to the tax, in the case of justifiable non-occupancy:
The report again identifies the province as preferred administrator for the tax through the creation of a new property class called “Residential Vacant” and using existing tax collection methods.
If the province doesn’t move on such a system, it identifies a municipal business tax as the next best option.
And it recommends a new policy requiring new developments in the city to require that buyers fill the units.
Absent from the report, however, is any discussion of exactly what rate an empty homes tax would be pegged at.