exploring toronto logo

Toronto’s New Vacant Home Tax: What You Need to Know

In a move to address housing affordability and availability, the City of Toronto has implemented the Vacant Home Tax (VHT), a measure aimed at encouraging homeowners to either rent out their unoccupied properties or sell them. As Toronto grapples with housing shortages and soaring prices, this tax intends to put vacant homes to better use and increase the city’s housing supply.

The Need for a Vacant Home Tax

Toronto is a city constantly growing in population and demand for housing. Yet, many homes remain unoccupied for various reasons, contributing to the scarcity and high cost of housing. The Vacant Home Tax is a policy response to this issue, targeting homes that are habitually empty and thus not contributing to the available housing stock.

How It Works

Starting from the 2022 and 2023 taxation years, a 1% tax of the Current Value Assessment (CVA) will be levied on all residences in Toronto that are declared, deemed, or determined to be vacant for more than six months during the previous year. This rate will increase to 3% for the 2024 and future taxation years. For instance, if the CVA of a property is $1,000,000, the tax for 2024 would be $30,000.

Declaring Occupancy Status

All owners of properties within the residential property tax class are required to declare the occupancy status of their property every year, regardless of whether they reside there. The declaration is due by February 29, 2024, for the following year. Declarations can be submitted through the City’s secure online portal or by mail. If a property is deemed vacant and the owner has failed to submit a declaration, it will be subject to the Vacant Home Tax.

Exemptions and Relief

There are exemptions to this tax, including properties that are:

  • The principal residence of the owner or a permitted occupant
  • Occupied by a tenant for residential or business purposes for more than six months of the year
  • Qualify for certain specific exemptions, such as undergoing extensive renovations, or if the owner is deceased.

Reinvesting in Affordable Housing

Revenues collected from the Vacant Home Tax will be allocated towards affordable housing initiatives. This includes the Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition program, which aims to preserve and increase the supply of affordable rental housing in Toronto.

Impact and Future Outlook

The Vacant Home Tax is a significant step towards utilizing existing homes to alleviate the housing crisis in Toronto. By incentivizing owners to rent out vacant properties, the city anticipates more homes will become available, helping to stabilize the housing market and create more opportunities for residents to find affordable housing. As the program matures, its impact on housing availability and affordability will become more apparent, shaping future housing policies in Toronto.

Community and Economic Considerations

While the Vacant Home Tax is primarily aimed at increasing housing availability, it also has broader implications for community development and economic vitality. Vacant properties can lead to neglected areas, decreasing the overall appeal and safety of neighborhoods. By encouraging occupancy, the VHT contributes to more vibrant and active communities. Furthermore, the increased occupancy can lead to higher local spending and support for small businesses, bolstering the local economy.

Challenges and Controversies

Despite its intentions, the Vacant Home Tax has faced criticisms and challenges. Some property owners feel it’s an unfair burden, particularly if their properties are vacant due to personal circumstances or the market’s natural ebb and flow. Others are concerned about privacy and the logistics of proving occupancy. The City of Toronto has been working to address these concerns by providing clear guidelines, a fair assessment process, and support for those unfamiliar with the new system.

Looking Ahead

As Toronto continues to evolve and grow, the Vacant Home Tax represents just one of many strategies the city is employing to address housing and urban development challenges. Its success, challenges, and adaptations will likely inform future policies not only in Toronto but in other cities facing similar issues. By monitoring its impact and making necessary adjustments, Toronto aims to ensure that the VHT serves its purpose of making the city a more affordable and liveable place for all its residents.

Recent Articles