Country Life in BC

April 17, 2019

Speculation tax a concern

by PETER MITHAM

BC farms that employ seasonal workers have received greater clarity regarding the impact the province’s speculation and vacancy tax could have on their operations.

Responding to questions from the Western Agriculture Labour Initiative, BC Ministry of Finance staff clarified the terms under which worker housing might be subject to the tax.

The clarification says that residential improvements with an assessed value of $150,000 and more will not be exempt from the tax. Bunkhouse accommodation, however, is exempt from the tax.

The tax, which Victoria announced last year, targets residential property in select regions that are either owned by non-residents or are rented for a total of less than three months of the year (2018) or less than six months of the year (2019 onwards).

Regions where the tax applies include Metro Vancouver and the Capital Regional District (with several exceptions in both regions), as well as the municipalities of Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Kelowna, West Kelowna, Nanaimo and Lantzville.

Property owners were required to file declarations of exempt status by the end of March.

While the potential for farm properties to be caught up in the tax is a genuine concern, how many properties will be impacted is unknown.

A query to the Western Agriculture Labour Initiative was forwarded to the BC Agriculture Council, which oversees WALI. BCAC staff said it’s tough to gauge the impact.

“We have had a few inquiries from employers, so know that some are impacted, but have no idea how many,” says BCAC communications director Danielle Synotte.

An overview of the speculation and vacancy tax is available at the finance ministry’s website.

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