Item - 2017.EX26.4

Tracking Status

  • City Council adopted this item on July 4, 2017 with amendments.
  • This item was considered by the Executive Committee on June 19, 2017 and adopted without amendment. It will be considered by City Council on July 4, 2017.

EX26.4 - Implementing a Vacant Home Tax in Toronto

Decision Type:
ACTION
Status:
Amended
Wards:
All

City Council Decision

City Council on July 4, 5, 6  and 7, 2017, adopted the following:

 

1.  City Council direct the Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer to:

 

a.  undertake consultation on the potential implementation and possible public policy benefits of a tax on vacant residential units in Toronto;

 

b.  give consideration to tax design features that includes the following possible administrative approaches for identifying vacant units:

 

1.  the Vancouver Approach (i.e. mandatory declaration for all properties);

 

2.  self-reporting Model; and/or

 

3.  complaints basis; and

 

c.  report back to the September 26, 2017 Executive Committee meeting with the results of the public consultations, recommendations on whether to proceed with a Toronto tax on vacant residential units and, if such a tax is recommended, on detailed tax design.

 

2.  City Council authorize the allocation of funding in the amount of $75,000 from Non-Program Account NP2135 (Corporate Studies) for consulting and technical support to undertake public consultation regarding imposing a tax on vacant residential units in Toronto.

 

3.  City Council request the Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer, in consultation with the City Clerk, the City Solicitor and with relevant City Divisions and Agencies, to review data sources that are publicly available or readily observable, with regard to privacy laws, including but not limited to:

 

a. Solid Waste weekly collection set out patterns;

b. City Planning, Toronto Building and Committee of Adjustment applications, permits and licences; and

c. Municipal Licensing and Standards investigations;

 

 to determine whether units are vacant.‎

Background Information (Committee)

(June 5, 2017) Report from the Deputy City Manager and the Chief Financial Officer on Implementing a Vacant Home Tax in Toronto
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2017/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-104734.pdf

Communications (Committee)

(June 16, 2017) Letter from Dr. Paul Kershaw, Founder, Generation Squeeze (EX.Supp.EX26.4.1)
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2017/ex/comm/communicationfile-70896.pdf

Communications (City Council)

(June 22, 2017) E-mail from Adam Tracey (CC.Main.EX26.4.2)

Motions (City Council)

1 - Motion to Amend Item (Additional) moved by Councillor Stephen Holyday (Carried)

That City Council request the Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer, in consultation with the City Clerk,  the City Solicitor and with relevant City Divisions and Agencies, to review data sources that are publicly available or readily observable, with regard to privacy laws, including but not limited to:

 

a. Solid Waste weekly collection set out patterns;

b. City Planning, Toronto Building and Committee of Adjustment applications, permits and licences; and

c. Municipal Licensing and Standards investigations;

 

 to determine whether units are vacant.‎


Motion to Adopt Item as Amended (Carried)

Vote (Adopt Item as Amended) Jul-05-2017 9:45 AM

Result: Carried Majority Required - EX26.4 - Adopt the item as amended
Total members that voted Yes: 32 Members that voted Yes are Maria Augimeri, Jon Burnside, John Campbell, Shelley Carroll, Gary Crawford, Joe Cressy, Janet Davis, Glenn De Baeremaeker, Justin J. Di Ciano, Frank Di Giorgio, Sarah Doucette, John Filion, Michael Ford, Mary Fragedakis, Mark Grimes, Jim Hart, Stephen Holyday, Norman Kelly, Mike Layton, Giorgio Mammoliti, Josh Matlow, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Joe Mihevc, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Frances Nunziata (Chair), Cesar Palacio, James Pasternak, Gord Perks, Neethan Shan, Michael Thompson, John Tory, Kristyn Wong-Tam
Total members that voted No: 0 Members that voted No are
Total members that were Absent: 13 Members that were absent are Paul Ainslie, Ana Bail„o, Christin Carmichael Greb, Josh Colle, Vincent Crisanti, Paula Fletcher, Michelle Holland, Jim Karygiannis, Chin Lee, Pam McConnell, Anthony Perruzza, Jaye Robinson, David Shiner

EX26.4 - Implementing a Vacant Home Tax in Toronto

Decision Type:
ACTION
Status:
Adopted
Wards:
All

Committee Recommendations

The Executive Committee recommends that:

 

1.  City Council direct the Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer to:

 

a.  undertake consultation on the potential implementation and possible public policy benefits of a tax on vacant residential units in Toronto;

 

b.  give consideration to tax design features that includes the following possible administrative approaches for identifying vacant units:

 

1.  the Vancouver Approach (i.e. mandatory declaration for all properties); or,

 

2.  self-reporting Model; and/or,

 

3.  complaints basis; and

 

c.  report back to the September 26, 2017 Executive Committee meeting with the results of the public consultations, recommendations on whether to proceed with a Toronto tax on vacant residential units and, if such a tax is recommended, on detailed tax design.

 

2.  City Council authorize the allocation of funding in the amount of $75,000 from Non-Program Account NP2135 (Corporate Studies) for consulting and technical support to undertake public consultation regarding imposing a tax on vacant residential units in Toronto.

Origin

(June 5, 2017) Report from the Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer

Summary

City Council at its meeting of May 24-26, 2017 requested a report on the feasibility of the City implementing a vacant home tax.  Vancouver, facing similar housing affordability issues as Toronto, adopted an Empty Home Tax in late 2016.

 

The biggest challenge facing such an initiative is in identifying vacant residential units.  Water or hydro meter data was originally collected for the purpose of determining appropriate billing amounts, and not for tracking the presence of individuals in specific residential units.  The City would face significant restrictions due to individuals' privacy rights on the use of personal information contained in water or hydro meter to track the presence of individuals within a residential unit as a means of identifying potentially vacant units for tax purposes, as that was not the original purpose for the collection of the data. 

 

Vancouver's administrative approach for identifying vacant units is to require all residential property owners to make a mandatory Status Declaration of their property on an annual basis.  Owners are required to declare their property's occupancy status for the preceding year.  Failure to declare status after a notice period would deem the property vacant and trigger tax liability ("negative billing").  Substantial penalties act as deterrence from making false declarations. 

 

Other less intrusive administrative approaches to identifying vacant units could include a self-identification approach, and/or a complaint based approach.  Under a self-identification approach, property owners would be encouraged to self-identify vacant units to the City for the purposes of the tax.  A complaint based approach would have the City commence an investigation of a property where a complaint was received of suspected vacant units, to confirm compliance with the requirements of vacant unit tax by-law.  Provision for substantial penalties could also be used as deterrence against failing to self-identify.  These approaches, however, are likely to be less effective than requiring all property owners to complete a mandatory status declaration.

 

This report seeks Council direction on the potential implementation of a vacant residential unit tax in Toronto, and if so, which of the administrative approaches for identifying vacant units should be considered.

Background Information

(June 5, 2017) Report from the Deputy City Manager and the Chief Financial Officer on Implementing a Vacant Home Tax in Toronto
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2017/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-104734.pdf

Communications

(June 16, 2017) Letter from Dr. Paul Kershaw, Founder, Generation Squeeze (EX.Supp.EX26.4.1)
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2017/ex/comm/communicationfile-70896.pdf

Motions

1 - Motion to Adopt Item moved by Mayor John Tory (Carried)

Vote (Adopt Item) Jun-19-2017

Result: Carried Majority Required
Total members that voted Yes: 9 Members that voted Yes are Paul Ainslie, Ana Bail„o, Gary Crawford, Frank Di Giorgio, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Cesar Palacio, James Pasternak, John Tory (Chair)
Total members that voted No: 1 Members that voted No are David Shiner
Total members that were Absent: 3 Members that were absent are Jon Burnside, Jaye Robinson, Michael Thompson
Source: Toronto City Clerk at www.toronto.ca/council