99% will not pay tax, British Columbia reports high returns on speculation tax forms

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In this July 6, 2017 photo, the Yoho River flows through Yoho National Park in Canada's stretch of the Rocky Mountains, straddling the border of British Columbia and Alberta. It is an outdoorsman's paradise with scenic mountain hikes and crystal-blue water. (AP Photo/Adam Kealoha Causey)

VICTORIA – The Ministry of Finance says more than 97 per cent of people in British Columbia who received speculation and vacancy tax notices have filed their declaration forms.

The ministry says about 1.6 million property owners received the tax declaration forms and as of Friday it estimates more than 99 per cent of British Columbians do not have to pay the tax.

The ministry says property owners who didn’t file the declaration by the March 31 deadline will receive a tax assessment notice by the end of May reminding them to complete the declaration to claim an exemption or determine eligibility for a tax credit.

Owners not exempt from the tax must pay their assessed amount by July 2.

The ministry says foreign property owners, Canadians living outside of B.C. and satellite families _ those who live in B.C., but pay income taxes elsewhere _ make up more than 80 per cent of people who will pay the tax.

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Condos and apartment buildings are seen in downtown Vancouver, B.C., on February 2, 2017. The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says demand continues to be high for attached homes and condominiums in Metro Vancouver and less so for detached homes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

For 2018, the tax rate is 0.5 per cent of the assessed value for all properties subject to the tax and next year it increases to two per cent for foreign owners and satellite families.

The speculation and vacancy tax is part of the government’s plan to improve housing affordability and increase the availability of rental properties.