All homeowners in B.C.’s largest urban centres will need to apply for exemptions from the province’s new speculation tax or receive a bill, whether they are speculators or not, the government announced on January 14.
The Ministry of Finance said letters outlining the first speculation tax fees and exemption processes will begin arriving at all homes in Greater Victoria, Nanaimo, Kelowna and Metro Vancouver (excluding Bowen Island and Lions Bay, but including Abbotsford, Mission and Chilliwack) starting this week.
It will be up to all homeowners to apply for exemptions, with a deadline of March 31. Those who don’t apply, or qualify, will be sent tax bills due to be paid by July 2. The opt-out process will become an annual event for property owners under the new speculation tax rules. People who pay mistakenly can get a rebate within six years, according to the ministry.
The speculation tax is actually not a fee imposed on the flipping of properties. Rather, it's being charged on those who own empty homes, which makes it a vacancy tax.
Those who don't fill out forms by March 31, 2019, declaring that their properties are occupied will be dinged with the levy.
This year, the fee is 0.5 percent for Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are not members of a "satellite family". Satellite families and foreign owners will pay two percent.
The "satellite" designation applies to families who earn 50 percent or more of their income from foreign sources.
Beginning today, "declaration letters" are being sent to homeowners across the province. Anyone with questions can phone (toll-free) 1-833-554-2323.