vacant home tax toronto

Toronto is scrapping some fees after huge backlash to vacant home tax

Staff at the City of Toronto are currently dealing with an onslaught of complaints from tens of thousands of residents who say they were slapped with hefty vacant home tax bills even though their properties are occupied. And, amid the mess, they are waiving some fees for those affected.

More than 60,000 people are complaining of a serious lack of communication from the City about the deadline for owners to declare their home's status for the relatively new levy, which is meant to crack down on investors sitting on empty units and contributing to the housing crisis.

The initial deadline of February 29 this year was extended to March 15 after it was determined more than a third of property owners had yet to respond by the date.

Those who didn't respond in time had their homes declared vacant by default, though some claim they only got a single email from the City to remind them of the cutoff, which they thought was a scam.

Though an appeal is possible, filing late comes with a fee — a fee that the City has been receiving so much grief about that it has decided to nix it.

Per Global News, the City has now said that the $21.24 late penalty will be "immediately waived for anyone who states they completed the declaration" by March 15 and, eventually, for anyone hit with the fee at all this year.

"The Vacant Homes [sic] Tax is one important policy tool that helps tackle housing speculation and improves the supply of homes available for people to live in. We're working to improve the rollout and make sure it's fair to people," Mayor Olivia Chow wrote in response to the issue on X Thursday.

While many online are blaming owners for not keeping track of the date and doing their due diligence, the City itself is aware that tens of thousands of residents seem to miss the date each year since the tax was implemented in 2022.

The deadline had to be extended by almost an entire month last year after more than 10 per cent of declarations were still unaccounted for by the initial date, and the year prior, a staggering 44,902 units were deemed vacant because owners hadn't declared them otherwise (compared to 2,336 units that were actually stated to be vacant by their owners).

That year, tens of thousands of owners filed appeals to change their home's vacancy status, which will inevitably happen again this year for those who are wrongfully facing steep bills amounting to three per cent of their home's value (up from one per cent when the tax first came into effect).

Lead photo by

Tri-Ace Realty Group Inc., Brokerage/Strata.ca


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