“If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street, If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat, cos I’m the taxman,” sang the Beatles.
That feeling that we’re being taxed for everything – even the inanimate objects we’re not using – is definitely not lost on us in 2016.
And that’s especially true if you live in Vancouver. The housing crisis has reached such a fever pitch that its mayor has declared the city will now tax empty homes.
Mayor Gregor Robertson announced that the city will be moving forward with plans to tax unoccupied homes in a bid to turn around the affordability crisis and a lack of rental vacancies.
“Vancouver housing is first and foremost for homes, not a commodity to make money with,” Robertson said. “We need a tax on empty homes to encourage the best use of all our housing, and help boost our rental supply at a time when there’s almost no vacancy and a real crunch on affordability.”
A tweet by Farrah Merali suggests that although the tax amount has not yet been announced, Robertson said that it must be high enough to deter people to sit on empty homes.
Despite efforts to work with the B.C government on this initiative, Vancouver is prepared to work alone if the province continues not to respond.
A city report suggests that the favoured option would be for the provincial government to create a new class of “residential vacant” property that taxes under-occupied homes extra.
A second option would be a new business tax levied on these investment properties.