The City of Toronto jump-started the year with a new Vacant Home Tax, under which an annual tax will be levied on residences unoccupied for more than six months of the taxation year. Residential property owners began receiving City-issued Vacant Home Tax Property Status Declaration forms late last year, directing them to file occupancy status with the City by February 2, 2023.

But with only 84.5% of homeowners declaring their occupancy status by the February 2 deadline, the City pushed the due date until the end of the month.

And now that time has come. All property owners must declare the occupancy status of their properties by today, February 28, or risk facing a hefty fine. The City says it has now received declarations from 95% of homeowners, and is just waiting on that final 5%.

Late declarations could be subject to a fine of $250, and making a false declaration could result in a fine as high as $10,000.

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The declaration must be made by either the property owner or someone acting on behalf of the property owner, and the fastest way to do so is through the City’s online declaration portal.

All declarations require the property owner’s 21-digit assessment roll number and customer number from a tax bill or property tax account statement. For housing providers specifically, the declaration requires information about tenants and/or permitted occupants.

Failure to make a declaration will result in the property being considered vacant, and therefore, subject to the tax. Those deemed subject to the tax will be issued a Vacant Home Tax Notice in March or April, and the payment will be due on May 1.

Homeowners will have the opportunity to appeal the City's decision, however. Doing so will require filing a Notice of Complaint through the City’s online portal -- but it must be received on or before the 10th business day of April in the year following the date on which the tax itself was due.

Homeowners should also be aware that any information submitted in the declaration could be subject to an audit on a random or specific criteria basis, at which time additional information may be required to substantiate an occupancy claim.

More information on the Vacant Home Tax, including how to declare occupancy status and any exemptions to the tax, can be found on the City of Toronto’s website.