Frequently asked questions about the speculation and vacancy tax
Find the answers to your questions about the speculation and vacancy tax.
- General questions
- Completing your declaration
- Information for real estate and legal professionals
What is the speculation and vacancy tax?
The speculation and vacancy tax is an annual tax paid by some owners of residential properties in designated taxable areas of B.C.
The tax is designed to discourage housing speculation and people from leaving homes vacant in designated areas of B.C. More than 99 percent of people in British Columbia are expected to be exempt from the tax.
Residential property owners in the taxable areas who receive a declaration letter must complete a declaration before March 31 every year, even if they're eligible for an exemption.
Where does the speculation and vacancy tax apply?
The tax applies to designated areas in B.C. See Taxable areas for specific municipalities and areas.
Does everyone have to complete a declaration?
If you do not own residential property in a designated taxable area, you do not need to complete a declaration. See Taxable areas for specific municipalities and areas.
I never needed to declare for the speculation and vacancy tax before, but I heard new areas are being added. When does this start?
The B.C. government announced the expansion of areas where the speculation and vacancy tax applies, beginning in the 2023 tax year (declarations for the expanded areas will begin January 2024). See Taxable areas.
Exemptions may apply, including principal residence exemptions and tenancy exemptions. Read the full list of exemptions and exclusions.
Subscribe to receive email notifications when new information about the speculation and vacancy tax becomes available.
I have lived here for my entire life, and I do not own any other properties. Why do I have to declare every year?
You have to declare every year because homeownership circumstances can change over time.
For example, you may have experienced a life event that could impact whether you are eligible for exemption, such as:
- A change in marital status
- The death of an owner
- A change to where you file income taxes
By declaring every year, you can make sure you are receiving the correct exemption for your situation.
If my home is in a designated taxable area, will I have to pay the speculation and vacancy tax?
Over 99 percent of people in British Columbia are likely exempt from paying the tax if they either live in their home as their principal residence or rent out their property for at least six months of the year.
You may also be eligible for other exemptions. Read the full list of exemptions and exclusions.
If you're not exempt, you'll receive a tax notice with the amount you owe.
How do I complete my declaration for the speculation and vacancy tax?
If you own residential property in a designated taxable area, the Province will send you a speculation and vacancy tax declaration letter telling you how to complete your declaration. In some circumstances when you own multiple properties, you may receive separate declaration letters.
What do I need to complete my declaration?
See How to declare for the speculation and vacancy tax to learn what information you need to complete your declaration.
If you're completing a declaration on behalf of someone else, see Special circumstances with the speculation and vacancy tax.
I did not receive a declaration letter. Does this mean I do not need to declare?
Residential property owners in the taxable areas who receive a declaration letter must complete it before March 31st every year, even if they're eligible for an exemption.
If you believe you should have received a declaration letter because you are in a a taxable area, contact us for additional assistance.
Note: The speculation and vacancy tax is a separate and distinct tax from the empty homes tax in the City of Vancouver and the Government of Canada’s underused housing tax.
Can I opt into receiving my declaration letter electronically?
All declarations are mailed to the mailing address on file with BC Assessment and the Land Title and Survey Authority of B.C. There is no option to receive the letters electronically.
What happens if I miss the declaration deadline?
Read about what happens if you miss the annual deadline to submit your declaration.
How can I complete a declaration for someone else?
To complete a declaration for someone who is unable to do so on their own, you must have the legal authority to act on their behalf. See Helping a friend or family member declare for more information.
Do I need to file a declaration on behalf of a deceased owner?
See Special circumstances with the speculation and vacancy tax for information on declaring when an owner of the property is deceased.
Can you tell me which exemption applies to me?
Our agents are available to answer any questions about the exemptions available to you, and what the qualifications are. However, they cannot provide advice on which exemptions may apply to you.
Note: Some temporary exemptions have phased out and are no longer available for property owners. For more information, see the full list of exemptions and exclusions.
Are there exemptions available if I am the co-owner of a taxable residential property?
Read about exemptions for shared ownership.
What if the owner is a corporation, trustee or partner?
Many of the exemptions available to individuals are also available to corporations, trustees or partners that own residential property.
How much speculation and vacancy tax will I have to pay if I am not exempt?
See Tax rates for the speculation and vacancy tax for information about how much tax you will need to pay.
When do I have to pay?
If you owe speculation and vacancy tax, your payment is due on the first business day in July each year.
What methods of payment can I use?
You can pay online through eTaxBC, through your financial institution, by cheque, or in person at a Service BC centre.
What happens if I do not pay all or part of what I owe?
A 10 percent penalty, as well as interest, applies to any unpaid balance after the due date.
Additionally, you may be subject to collection action if you do not respond to our requests for payment, which can result in further legal action.
What if another person on title owes speculation and vacancy tax but does not pay?
If a property has multiple owners on title and one person owes the tax but does not pay their amount owing, collection action will begin, which may result in a lien being placed on the property.
In this situation, you're advised to seek legal advice.
What happens if I pay, then find out later I’m exempt? Can I get a refund?
Yes. See Refunds for the speculation and vacancy tax for more information.
What if I am notified that I am subject to an audit of my declarations?
We routinely conduct reviews of declarations to confirm eligibility for the exemption(s) claimed to ensure taxes have been paid correctly. See the audit process for the speculation and vacancy tax for more information.
Why did I get asked for documentation to confirm my exemption?
As a review of a declaration you have submitted, the information you provide is used to confirm that you meet eligibility requirements for the exemptions you've claimed.
If we cannot confirm that you're eligible for an exemption, this may result in the exemption being disallowed, and you may be assessed the tax.
I do not agree with my Notice of Assessment. Can I appeal the decision?
If you believe an error was made in an assessment, a disallowed refund or other decision made by the Ministry of Finance, you may be able to appeal the decision.
See Can you appeal? for more information about appealing a decision.
To learn more about your appeal, contact the Tax Appeals and Litigation Branch.
Note: Call centre agents are unable to provide any information on your appeal.
Do I need to contact the Ministry of Finance?
No. When helping with the purchase or sale of a home in areas where the speculation and vacancy tax is applied, you do not need to contact the Ministry of Finance about potential tax amounts owed to the province.
Tax assessments, including the amounts owing, are a confidential matter between the Ministry of Finance (as tax administrator) and the homeowner (potential taxpayer).
Homeowners with a speculation and vacancy tax balance owning receive a monthly statement of account. If a homeowner provides an email address when they declare, they'll receive an email confirming they have submitted their declaration and advising them whether or not they are exempt from the tax. No other written proof is available.
How can I confirm a property is clear of any speculation and vacancy tax debt that may impact the sale or purchase?
Doing a title search through Land Title and Survey Authority (LTSA) to confirm clear title will show you if there are any outstanding liens against the property.
Are speculation and vacancy tax assessments attached to the property?
A purchaser does not take on any speculation and vacancy tax debt incurred by the seller. When a homeowner is assessed tax, it is that individual homeowner who is responsible for paying it.
Similar to how the province collects other outstanding tax debts, we may place a lien on a property that the homeowner has an ownership interest in, as a way to secure the repayment of the speculation and vacancy tax debt. This lien appears on an LTSA search.
This information is provided for your convenience and guidance and is not a replacement for the legislation.