By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Mayor John Tory announced an extension for Toronto homeowners’ Vacant Home Tax declarations during an event to launch new speed cameras on Thursday, Feb. 2, the day of the initial deadline.
The deadline was moved to the end of the month as thousands have yet to declare the status of their property.
“There will be no fines issued during that time and so I hope that what this will encourage people to do is to fill out the form so they won’t have to pay this tax,” said Tory. “If they can just do that it will help avoid a lot of calls and emails later that people don’t want.”
A City of Toronto news release on Friday, Feb. 3, confirmed that the Vacant Home Tax deadline has been extended to the end of February.
Failure to submit property status by the new deadline, however, will result in an assumption that it is vacant and a tax will be implemented.
So far, 84.5 per cent of all Toronto households have made their declarations.
According to the city, the Vacant Home Tax expected to generate between $55 to $66 million annually.
The revenue will be put towards affordable housing initiatives in order to “additionally help the City of Toronto continue to do its part to tackle the city’s housing crisis,” said Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford.
However, he told Beach Metro Community News that this is not the primary goal of the VHT.
“The VHT program aims to encourage owners of vacant residential properties to act on these vacancies by renting or selling their units, thus getting them back to their original intention — to house people,” said Bradford.
The Vacant Home Tax was approved for development and implementation by the city back in 2021 as a strategic way to increase housing supply in Toronto by taxing unoccupied homes.
If a property is left without tenants for at least six months out of a year, the homeowner will be mandated to pay one per cent of the current value assessment (CVA) of the home the following year.
The tax does come with exemptions. For instance, it does not apply to properties that are the primary residence of the owner or a permitted occupant such as a tenant.
“Even people who go to Florida for a few months are living in their homes, they’re not vacant, we’re looking for those homes that are completely empty,” said Tory.
Other exemptions include the death of a registered owner, renovations, transfer of legal ownership, occupancy for full time employment, and a court order preventing a property from being occupied.
Declarations of occupancy status can be made online at https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/property-taxes-utilities/vacant-home-tax/vacant-home-tax-declaration-of-occupancy-status/
A paper declaration form can also be submitted and must be received by the City of Toronto before the deadline to avoid a fine and having your property deemed vacant. To download a pdf of the paper form, please go to https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/8c6a-COT-VHT-Declaration-Form.pdf
For more information on the Vacant Home Tax, visit https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/property-taxes-utilities/vacant-home-tax/ or call the City of Toronto’s information line at 311.
Amarachi Amadike is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro Community News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.
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