Mayor Tory declared that the deadline for Toronto’s new vacant home tax was extended to the end of February, with about 84.5 per cent of homeowners completing the required form to declare whether their home is empty.
15% of homeowners are yet to fill the required form. They are at risk of having their properties declared vacant.
The city earlier informed homeowners who don’t meet the original Feb. 2 deadline that they could have their properties declared vacant.
“Let’s remember that the most important thing about the vacant home tax is that most people will not pay it because most people are living in their homes,” Tory told reporters at an event to launch new speed cameras.
“Even people who go to Florida for a few months are living in their homes, they’re not vacant, we’re looking for those homes that are completely empty.”
The tax was introduced to get unused potential units bank on the rental and real estate markets. If a property is empty, owners will have to pay one per cent of the current value assessment (CVA) of the home. If that’s $1,000,000 for example, they will need to pay $10,000 in tax.
“The point of this isn’t money, the point of this is to get housing stock that is sitting empty into people’s hands to use for housing,” Tory said.
Homeowners have to fill out the form to indicate whether or not their property is empty.
“The portal will stay open after today and we’re accepting late declarations without penalties until the end of February,” said city spokesperson Alex Burke in an email.
The city notes on its website: “a property is considered vacant if it is not used as the principal residence by the owner(s) or any permitted occupant(s), or if it was unoccupied for a total of six months or more during the previous calendar year.”
If owners don’t make the annual declaration by the deadline “and/or provide supporting documentation,” their property may be “deemed vacant,” the city website adds.
Similar tax regime was introduced in Vancouver in 2017. The total number of vacant properties now stands at 1,398, 36 per cent less properties than when the program launched, according to a report.
Asked why the tax is so low, Tory said they learned from Vancouver’s experience.
“We’ll assess it, but we started off at a reasonably low rate similar to what they did in Vancouver where I think it worked to produce thousands of additional housing units for the people who need it, he said.
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