Homeowners in Toronto have until Feb. 28 to submit a declaration of their property’s 2022 occupancy status.
If the owner deems the property vacant or fails to complete the declaration, a tax of 1% of the home’s current assessed market value, as determined by Ontario’s Municipal Property Assessment Corp., will be applied to their property tax bill starting in spring.
Homeowners who don’t make a declaration by the deadline could also be fined $250. Fines for attempting to evade the tax can range from $250 to $10,000.
Certain properties may be selected for audit. If chosen, the homeowner must provide information and evidence to establish whether the home was vacant or occupied during the reference period.
A property is considered vacant if it was not used as the principal residence by the owner(s) or any permitted occupant(s), such as tenants, or was unoccupied for a total of six months or more during the previous calendar year.
The vacant home tax has implications for people buying and selling real estate. It is the responsibility of buyers and sellers to make the appropriate arrangements to ensure the declaration has been filed. The tax will form a lien on the property and any unpaid taxes will become the purchaser’s responsibility. If a closing occurs after the declaration period — Feb. 3 to Dec. 31 — the purchaser must submit a declaration in the following year. Sellers should provide a copy of the completed and filed property status declaration to the purchaser, as well as a statutory declaration at closing confirming the filed property status declaration is true and correct.
There are a number of exemptions from the tax, including properties undergoing renovations, homes where the principal resident is in long-term care or if vacancy has been caused by the death of the owner.
The City mailed notices of the declaration requirement to homeowners in December. The notices included the property owner’s assessment roll number and customer number — two pieces of information needed to make a declaration of occupancy status — as well as instructions on how to submit the declaration online or mail it in. Homeowners can also find their assessment roll and customer service numbers on their most recent property tax bill.
City council voted in December 2021 to create the tax on vacant properties. The goal is to put pressure on owners to sell those empty homes or rent them.