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Economist says Vancouver Mayor’s call for empty home tax too blunt

Vancouver’s Mayor has stepped up his call for action in the Vancouver real estate market to include a tax on empty homes.

In an interview with Bloomberg Canada Tuesday, Gregor Robertson said if a home is being treated like a business then it should be taxed accordingly.

But UBC Professor Tom Davidoff says more targeted action is needed, and is renewing his call for harsher fines aimed a more specific group.

“People who purchase homes but aren’t landlords, of course that would include vacant homes. But would also include homes run by so-called astronaut families, where people might actually live in the homes but nobody pays taxes in Canada”

READ MORE: Public asked to weigh in on Vancouver’s empty homes

Davidoff says people who don’t live and work here should pay higher property taxes to enhance affordability for people who stay in the city.

“If people who live and work here are being outbid for homes by people who do not live and work here and don’t pay taxes here, that other class of homebuyers ought to be paying higher property taxes.”

So what’s the right tax amount to cool down the market?

“We would take you to an extra 1.5% property tax if you’re not a landlord, if you don’t pay income tax, if you’re not a CPP recipient where you haven’t lived in the home for a long time. So we protect people who have been working in the community for a long time.”

A report presented to the City this spring found just under 11,000 empty homes in Vancouver, 90-percent of them apartments or condos.