Vancouver homeowner off the hook for $340,000 Empty Homes Tax bill

Photo by CTV Vancouver's Pete Cline in Chopper 9 on Monday, June 4, 2018.

A Vancouver homeowner will not have to pay a tax bill worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, a B.C. judge decided.

The homeowner is no longer on the hook for $340,000 racked up through the city’s Empty Homes Tax.

In the first major judgment on the local tax, a B.C. Supreme Court justice ruled against the two-level internal appeal process.

The case involves a lot with an iconic view, located on Belmont Avenue in the city’s tony Point Grey neighbourhood.

The owner began redeveloping the property in 2018.

The city argued the owner didn’t apply for an Empty Homes Tax exemption early enough, but that decision was deemed “unreasonable” in court last week.

A legal expert said this ruling should serve as a lesson for municipal governments in Toronto and Ottawa as those cities consider a similar tax system.

In Vancouver, the fee also known as the Vacancy Tax was introduced four years ago as a way to encourage property owners to put their empty or underutilized property on the rental market.

In part, it was to discourage owners from renting their properties only through sites like Airbnb, when the city’s vacancy rate was near zero and renters who were able to find long-term accommodations in their own city faced sky-high monthly rates.

Homeowners who live in their home can apply each year for exemption, but those who own properties deemed empty are subject to a tax – which was three per cent in 2021.

Source: CTV News