WATCH: If you own residential property in B.C.’s largest urban centers, you will have to fill out paperwork proving you are not a speculator. It’s part of the provincial government’s speculation tax and it affects homeowners on Vancouver Island. Mary Griffin reports.
Nanaimo is one of seven municipalities in B.C. subject to the province’s new speculation tax, a list that also includes Victoria and Lantzville on Vancouver Island.
All homeowners in those areas will have to apply for an exemption or receive a tax bill. B.C.Finance Minister Carole James said the majority of British Columbians support the tax.
“Most British Columbians, the majority of British Columbians support the Speculation and Vacancy Tax. Because they know what kind of a housing crisis we’re facing in British Columbia,” James said.
J. Andre Rachert, a lawyer specializing as a tax specialist in the private sector, said the new tax roll-out may be confusing, but in the end, it’s only targetting one specific group.
“It’s not going to apply to 99 per cent of people in BC. But it seems maybe a bit of sledgehammer to a gnat,” Rachert said.
The tax focuses on speculators parking their money in BC real estate but living outside the country.
“They are targeting people who have property here, who are not paying tax here. And that takes a big sweep to do that.”
But B.C. Liberal Party candidate for the Nanaimo byelection, Tony Harris, said the tax won’t solve anything.
“I’ve stated that I think it’s a reckless tax to impose on Nanaimo because I don’t feel like speculation is driving the affordability issues at the lower end of the market,” Harris said.
The NDP candidate, Sheila Malcolmson, not surprisingly, disagrees.
“I have not heard of anything but support for the tools that have been brought in already to combat the affordability housing crisis that was perpetrated by 16 years of BC Liberal inaction,” Malcolmson said.
The new Speculation Tax will target vacation properties in the seven regions.
“If you have multiple properties, I think you are going to be captured. Unless you can say I’m going to start renting this out,” Rachert said.