How the speculation and vacancy tax works

The speculation and vacancy tax is designed to turn empty homes into housing for British Columbians, and ensure foreign owners and those with primarily foreign income contribute fairly to B.C.’s tax system.

This tax is an annual tax that applies based on:

  • How property owners use their residential property
  • The property owner’s residency status
  • Where property owners earn and report their income

To learn about how the tax is calculated, see Tax rates.

The speculation and vacancy tax has an annual declaration process and is administered by using data from partner agencies.

This tax is also different from Vancouver’s empty home's tax.

Annual declaration process

Registered owners of residential property in a designated taxable region must complete a declaration each year to declare their residency status and how their property has been used.

You have to declare each year because your circumstances may change during the year.

Your declaration is due on March 31 of each year.

Learn more about:

Declaration timeline

  • Receive your declaration letter mid-January to mid-February

  • Declare by March 31

    You declare how you used your property last year. If asked about your income, use income from the year before last year.

  • If you owe tax, pay by the first business day in July

For example:

  • Received letter January 30, 2021

  • Declare by March 31, 2021

    You declare how you used your property in 2020. If asked about your income, use income from 2019.

  • If you owe tax, pay by July 2, 2021

Why everyone must declare

If a property has more than one owner, a separate declaration must be made for each owner, even if the other owner is your spouse or relative. 

Because this tax is based on how each owner uses the property and whether they have foreign income, we need each owner on title to declare separately.

Why we need you to complete a declaration

You need to declare your residency status, whether you pay taxes in Canada and how you use your property so that we can determine:

We don’t use information from other sources such as your home owner grant application because that process doesn’t collect the right information for this tax.

Why we ask for your social insurance number (SIN)

The declaration requires you to provide your SIN and date of birth. This information is required to:

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner confirmed that collecting SIN and date of birth on your declaration is necessary for us to administer the tax.

The online declaration application securely protects your information. All information entered into the application is encrypted at the time of entry. Only ministry staff with special security clearance can view your personal information.

If you don't know your SIN number, or don't yet have one, please contact Service Canada for assistance.

Partner agencies

The speculation and vacancy tax is administered using data from both the Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) and BC Assessment.

LTSA provides title and legal description data to BC Assessment, such as:

  • All owners listed on title for a property
  • Mailing address(es) of owner(s)
  • Legal description of property

BC Assessment provides assessment roll data to us, such as:

  • Your property classification - to determine if you should get a speculation and vacancy tax letter
  • Your mailing address - to mail your speculation and vacancy tax letter
  • The assessed value of your property - to calculate any speculation or vacancy tax you may owe if you aren’t eligible for an exemption

Since BC Assessment uses information from LTSA to generate the assessment roll data, it’s important that your information with both LTSA and BC Assessment is accurate.

Read on to learn more about when to contact each agency if you need to update your information.

Land Title and Survey Authority’s role

The Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia (LTSA) registers changes to property ownership in B.C., such as:

  • A mailing address change
  • A name change
  • Adding or removing someone from title, like a deceased owner

If you need to make changes to your property ownership, follow the processes outlined by LTSA.

When you update your title and contact information with LTSA, BC Assessment is automatically notified of the change.

Did you know there is an exemption from the speculation and vacancy tax when an owner dies during the year? Read more about the exemption for recent death of an owner.

BC Assessment’s role

BC Assessment determines property values in B.C. They also determine the classification of your property, such as residential or commercial.

The speculation and vacancy tax only applies to properties classified as residential that are also in the designated taxable regions.

If you have concerns about your assessed property value or property classification, contact BC AssessmentThe deadline to file a notice of complaint (appeal) with BC Assessment is February 1 each year.

Vancouver’s empty homes tax

The speculation and vacancy tax is different from Vancouver's empty homes taxThe rules for each tax and how they apply are not the same.

This means that if you own residential property in the City of Vancouver, you:

  • Must declare separately for each tax
  • May be exempt from one tax but have to pay the other

This information is provided for your convenience and guidance and is not a replacement for the legislation.