Calls for speculation tax to be cancelled or changed as province prepares to mail out declaration letters

Calls for speculation tax to be cancelled or changed as province prepares to mail out declaration letters

WATCH: Backlash continues to grow after province announces all homeowners in speculation tax zones will have to fill out annual forms. April Lawrence reports.

There are homes under construction nearly everywhere you look in Langford but Mayor Stew Young insists people are living in every one of them.

“I don’t even know an empty house in Langford I really don’t and that’s the truth,” he said.

That’s why Young is such a vocal opponent of the province’s new speculation tax which was rolled out this week.

“The vast majority of British Columbian’s support the speculation and vacancy tax because they know what kind of crisis we’re facing in British Columbia,” said Finance Minister Carole James on Wednesday.

Young has been trying to get Langford out of the speculation tax zone for a year with no success. And now everyone who owns a home there, speculator or not, will have to fill out the forms each year.

“If everybody gets affected by speculation tax nobody’s going to support it,” Young said.

On Vancouver Island, the tax forms will have to be filled out by every homeowner in Nanaimo, Lantzville and the Capital Regional District.

“I actually believe this tax is going to have to be repealed sometime in the near future,” said Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver.

Weaver says he only voted for the tax to keep the government running and not force another election but he disagrees with how it’s being rolled out.

“People are going to get these things in the mail and they’re going to think it’s a bill or they’re going to forget to register and what’s going to happen is all sorts of people are going to be paying this tax that actually shouldn’t be paying it,” he said.

The biggest concern is for the elderly and the B.C.’s seniors advocate says she’s already asked the Ministry of Finance how they plan to handle that.

“Some reassurances that reason will prevail and that nobody will be tagged with this tax who is not supposed to be paying the tax just because they weren’t able to get the paperwork done,” said Isobel Mackenzie.

Langford’s mayor says there’s a simple solution — just add it to property tax forms homeowners are already filling out.

“You could have had a box on the bottom of it that just says are you a speculator yes or no, if you’re ticking off your homeowners grant you’re not a speculator because you’re living in the house,” said Young.

But so far the province is forging ahead with its plan and will be mailing out declaration letters over the next few weeks.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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