vacant home tax toronto

Toronto's vacant home tax has arrived and here's what you need to know

That unkempt, overgrown property on your street could soon finally get some tenants thanks to a new City of Toronto tax clamping down on vacant homes.

After much discussion on taxing owners of unoccupied units, the City finally passed its vacant home tax in mid-2021, and put it into effect at the start of 2022.

The new tax is expected to bring in another revenue stream for the cash-strapped city while also incentivizing owners to secure tenants and bring their units back into the housing supply.

With a year of the new tax now in the books, the deadline arrives this week for homeowners to declare their occupancy status for 2022.

If you are the owner of a unit — whether it was occupied or vacant in 2022 — you are required to declare occupancy status by February 2, though there are indeed some exemptions.

Here's everything you need to know about the new vacant home tax:

Declare your status every year

First and foremost, the City requires homeowners to declare the occupancy status of their home every year. This is the case regardless of whether you're a landlord or live in the home yourself. If you own a residential property, you need to declare annually. Full stop.

Ways to declare your occupancy status

The City of Toronto has an online portal where homeowners enter the 21-digit assessment roll number and customer number found on their tax bill or property tax account statement.

There's also a mail-in declaration form for old-timers, but with the deadline coming on Thursday, snail mail could be a dicey choice this late in the game.

How much do I have to pay?

The tax is being introduced at a rate of 1 per cent of a property's assessed value, so if you own a million-dollar house in Toronto, it will cost you $10,000 per year to leave it sitting empty.

What happens if you don't declare?

If you fail you hit the February 2 deadline to declare your occupancy status, your home may automatically be deemed vacant and subject to the tax.

According to the tax bylaw enacted in late 2021, those who fail to declare their home's status or make a false declaration "may face a fine in the minimum amount of $250 and not to exceed the maximum amount of $10,000, for each offence."

Who is exempt from the tax

Though the reporting period is annual, only homes that have spent at least six months of the previous calendar year are subject to the tax, so if your home sat empty for even a day short of that value, no tax for you.

Other exemptions include a home left vacant due to the death of the owner, the principal resident being placed in long-term care, or any longer-term renovation project that makes the home uninhabitable for lengthy periods.

What will the tax accomplish?

A vacant home tax may be new for Toronto, but it has been used to positive effect elsewhere in Canada.

According to a report from Royal LePage, Vancouver's 2017-enacted Empty Homes Tax (EHT) "resulted in a 20 per cent reduction in vacant residences, and 49 per cent of homes that were reported as vacant during that period were later occupied" between 2020 and 2021.

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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