Spec tax petition grows
Trevor Nichols - Mar 12 - Biz Releases

Image: CTV

An online petition asking the provincial government to put the brakes on its planned “speculation tax” is picking up steam.

The tax, which Finance Minister Carol James first revealed in her 2018 budget, would target homeowners who do not pay income tax in B.C, including homeowners who leave their homes vacant, as well as “satellite families” with high foreign incomes that pay little provincial income tax.

Initially, the tax will only target specific areas of the province, include Kelowna and West Kelowna.

The online petition against the tax first appeared on Change.org approximately two weeks ago. Its author says they are an Alberta resident who is part of a couple that’s owned a vacation home in B.C. since 2006.

“We and many of our friends and family from B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan have visited our Okanagan home and spent many weeks and months there as residents,” the author writes. “We spend thousands of dollars in our home community every year… We are residents, not speculators.”

The author adds that the tax, as it is currently proposed, would eventually “more than quadruple” their property taxes.

“If we sell, and we would have to, we not only have to abandon our dream vacation home but we take all of our spending with us,” they write.

The petition’s original goal was 7,5000 signatures. As of noon on Monday, close to 7,400 people had signed, many of whom appear to be out-of-province Canadians who own vacation homes in the affected areas.

This kind of concern from the vacation-home crowd, along with a significant lobby from realtors and developers, may have already had an impact on the provincial government.

Late last week, the Canadian Press reported the government is already tinkering with the rules for the tax, a initiative fuelled by the concern homeowners have raised.

James previously said the tax will come into effect in the fall.

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