Vancouver Is Inspiring Major U.S. Cities To Implement Their Own Empty Home Tax

Vancouver Empty Home Tax U.S.

The City of Vancouver is facing multiple lawsuits centered on the empty home tax, but that isn’t stopping cities in the U.S. from wanting to implement a similar tax of their own.

According to a report by Bloomberg Tax, “City representatives in Honolulu, and San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco all want to emulate Vancouver’s 1% tax on vacant homes.”

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All of these cities have showed strong interest in implementing such a task, with each of them at different stages. In San Diego, officials are conducting a study into their vacancy issue, while Honolulu is still in the proposition phase.

The Empty Home Tax

Coming into effect on January 1st, 2017, the Empty Homes Tax, also known as the Vacancy Tax (Bylaw 11674), taxes home owners 1% of a property’s assessed taxable value.

The intention of the Vacancy Tax, according to the City of Vancouver, is to:

  • Return empty or under-utilized properties to use as long-term rental homes for people who live and work in Vancouver
  • Help relieve pressure on Vancouver’s rental housing market, as our city has one of the lowest rental vacancy rates and the highest rental costs in Canada

The Effects

The City of Vancouver claims that, as of February 2019, there has been a 15% reduction in the number of vacant homes, which is what has caught the eye of American cities with similar housing dynamics.

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A byproduct of this tax, as alluded to previously, is homeowners who are displeased with the tax and are deciding to fight it in court.

Several lawsuits have been filed just in the last few weeks, according to Global News. Most of the lawsuits are focusing on whether or not a particular property should have been subjected to the tax, particularly as it relates to homes under development.

Regardless, cities are hoping that the benefits will outweigh the troubles.

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