Vancouver's Empty Home Tax Will Include Airbnb Units

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Vancouver's proposed empty homes tax will include secondary units being booked full-time on the vacation rental website Airbnb, with the maximum fine for people who evade the levy set at $10,000.

New details of the tax emerged at city hall where council voted to move forward with public consultation despite staunch opposition of three councillors from the centre-right Non-Partisan Association.

Coun. George Affleck called the tax a "bureaucratic nightmare,'' while Coun. Elizabeth Ball said the proposal was frightening seniors who may have had to leave home to care for a sick loved one, for example.

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Mayor Gregor Robertson dismissed their concerns as "fear-mongering'' and says the process for enforcing the tax — through self-declaration, audits and complaints — was the same as the income tax process.

Robertson said $10,000 is the maximum fine the city can impose under its charter, but it will consider a combination of the fine plus a higher tax rate for people who fail to self-declare or fraudulently declare.

The tax would not apply to primary residences, only secondary units such as investment condos that are not being used by a long-term tenant or units being exclusively used for Airbnb.

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