Note This information reflects the changes to the tax certificate’s Empty Homes Tax section as of January 25, 2018.
What information will be on the tax certificate with respect to the Empty Homes Tax?
The tax certificate will include the following:
- whether a declaration has been submitted,
- if a declaration has been submitted, the declared status of the property,
- any potential liability,
- amounts for levy, penalty, payment and adjustment amounts,
- the outstanding amount owing,
- whether the property was selected for an audit*,
- whether a complaint has been submitted.
*Note: a property may be audited up to two years after the vacancy reference period.
Will there be any indication on the tax certificate that the property is eligible for the transfer of property exemption if the property is sold during the vacancy reference period?
There is general information about the Empty Homes Tax on the tax certificate header, however the details provided on the tax certificate will be specific to the declared property status, amount owing, any potential liabilities and whether the declaration is under audit, complaint, or review.
Will there be any indication on the tax certificate of whether or not a property status declaration has been made for the property?
If a property status declaration was made during the declaration period, the tax certificate will indicate if a property is declared occupied, declared exempt or declared vacant. During this period an undeclared property will remain in pending status and the tax certificate will warn: “A declaration must be submitted prior to the completion of sale of this property otherwise the property will be deemed vacant and subject to the Vacancy Tax”. If a declaration is not submitted by the due date, the property will be deemed vacant and subject to the Vacancy Tax, so this is a recommendation wherever possible.
After the declaration period closes, the tax certificate will indicate if a property is:
- declared occupied,
- declared exempt,
- declared vacant or undeclared (deemed vacant).
The potential liability will reflect the levy amount based upon the current assessed value of the property and any other levies, penalties or miscellaneous charges.
If the property is under audit, complaint or review, will the tax certificate indicate that the property is undergoing each process and will the potential liability be displayed?
If the property is undergoing audit, complaint or review, the tax certificate will display the declaration status and state that the audit, complaint or review is “open”.
If a property is undergoing audit, the tax certificate will indicate any potential liability. If a property is undergoing complaint/review, the tax certificate will remain as-is and indicate the status of the complaint or review because a complaint/review would only occur on property that is deemed vacant and will therefore show in the Billing Summary section as a levy. The exception to this is that if a complaint/review is occurring on a property that has declared vacant and has not yet been billed, it will show as a potential liability.
How will the liability appear on the tax certificate for a property that is declared vacant?
If a property is declared vacant, but a bill has not yet been generated, the tax certificate will show 1.25% of the property’s assessed taxable value as a potential liability. Once a bill has been issued, the Vacancy Tax amount will appear as a levy under the Balance Summary section.
How will an outstanding Vacancy Tax amount be displayed on the tax certificate when it has been added to the property tax account as arrears?
Any Vacancy Tax balance at the end of the following year will be added to property taxes and be displayed on the tax certificate as property taxes in arrears.
Can a new owner rely solely on the tax certificate which states that a declaration has been made where the property status is declared occupied? Will the new owner be expected to provide evidence or information to support a previous owner’s property status declaration?
Where there is a transfer of legal ownership of property that closes outside of the vacancy reference period (e.g. the purchase and sale agreement was entered into in 2017 but the transaction does not close until 2018), the exemption for the transfer of property does not apply. If the property was vacant, the City may still impose the Empty Homes Tax and this should be accounted for during the conveyancing.
Buyers of residential property should consider requesting that the seller provide a statutory declaration at closing confirming the filed property status declaration is true and correct to be included as additional terms in the Contract of Purchase and Sale.
Pursuant to the Vacancy Tax Bylaw, the Collector of Taxes may audit up to two years after the applicable vacancy reference period and request an owner to provide evidence or information to support a property status. If the Collector of Taxes reviews the evidence or information and determines that the declaration was false, then the property would be subject to the tax.
Any penalties for non-declaration would be applied against the owner(s) on record who received a notification to declare for the reference period and who failed to make a declaration. A new owner would not be responsible for these penalties.
Additional fines for false information or evidence would be applied against the owner(s) who submitted the false property status declaration and not the property.
Will the Vacancy Tax account always show on the tax certificate?
If a property is not subject to the Empty Homes Tax because it is not solely Class 1 residential, it is tax exempt or it is excluded based on the definition of residential property in the Vacancy Tax Bylaw, then there will not be a Vacancy Tax section on the tax certificate.
If a property is subject to the tax, will the Vacancy Tax amount show on the property inquiry website (vancouver.ca/propertyinquiry) that is available to the public?
The Vacancy Tax amount or potential liability will not be displayed on these publicly available reports. All properties will have a note within both the Property Inquiry Report and the Account Balances Report that states, “Any liability for Vacancy Tax is not included as part of this report.