Toronto homeowners have until the end of February to declare if their home is vacant

The deadline for homeowners in Toronto to declare if their residential property is occupied or vacant has been extended until the end of February, the city’s mayor says.

John Tory made the announcement during an unrelated press conference on Thursday.

The deadline was initially set for Feb. 2, but has now been extended until the end of the month.

“There’ll be no fines issued during that time for not filling out the form,” Tory said. “I hope what this will encourage people to fill out the form so that they won’t have to pay this tax and declare happily for us that their unit is occupied.”

According to the city, an annual tax will be levied on vacant Toronto residences, payable beginning in 2023.

The city sent letters to homeowners months ago advising them to declare if their home is vacant either by letter or online. 

The goal of the vacant home tax is to increase the supply of housing by discouraging homeowners from leaving their properties unoccupied, the city said.

Those who choose to keep their properties vacant will be subject to the tax.

The tax — one per cent of the current value assessment — will be imposed on all residences in the city that are declared, deemed or determined to be vacant.

According to the city, a property is considered vacant if it’s not used as the “principal residence” by the owner or any permitted occupants, or if it was not occupied by tenants for a total of six months or more during the previous calendar year.

The city said a property may also be deemed vacant if the owner fails to declare occupancy status outlined in the city’s bylaw.

Officials said all homeowners are required to submit a declaration of occupancy status.

However, the tax doesn’t apply to properties that are the principal residence of the owner, homes that are the principal residence of an occupant or tenant or properties that qualify for an exemption.

The city said money collected from the Vacant Home Tax will be “allocated towards affordable housing initiatives.”

Speaking at an unrelated press conference on Thursday, Toronto Mayor John Tory said “most people will not pay” the vacant home tax because they are living at their properties.

He pointed to Vancouver as an example, saying thousands of units came back on the market.

“And that’s what we want here,” he said. “We want people not to pay the tax. I don’t care if anybody pays this tax. If units — thousands of units — can come aback on the housing market in the City of Toronto, think of the difference it would make if thousands of units were available to us because people did not want to pay this tax. ”

The city’s website said reminder notices will be mailed out the week of Feb. 13 to property owners who haven’t’ submitted their declaration.

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