The Vacant Unit Tax will be applicable for the first time in 2023. A property owner’s principal residence is not subject to the tax; however, all residential property owners must complete the declaration. The owner’s other residential properties that are vacant for 184 days or more days could be subject to the one per cent tax, if it does not meet the other exempted reasons – such as legal restrictions, illness and hospitalization, and renovation work.
The annual VUT declaration is an adjustment for all residential property owners, where they are required to provide the status of their residential properties in a brief online declaration – now available online at ottawa.ca/vut.
We have provided information on ottawa.ca and reached out to residential property owners by mail and email. A second notice will be sent to residential property owners in early January – which will include your roll number, access code and more information on how to declare. If you have already completed the declaration, you can disregard the second information notice.
We understand the updates can sometimes create information overload. So, we will be providing a story series where we answer some common questions received from you, our residents. We are hoping these answers will help make things a little clearer.
Why is the Vacant Unit Tax in place?
Ottawa’s housing supply has grown tighter, and the rental and sale prices have risen dramatically during the pandemic. It has been further impacted by rising cost of living and higher bank and mortgage rates.
This has created a struggle for residents and their families to find a place to live within a price range they can afford. Ottawa City Council declared an Affordable Housing and Homelessness Emergency in 2020 – even before the higher inflation rates. The Vacant Unit Tax is an incentive in the City’s toolbox to get these properties on the market to rent or sell – increasing Ottawa’s housing stock. All revenues collected will go directly into the City’s funding for more affordable housing.
Why did residential property owners get a notice a month before declarations open?
Residential property owners providing brief information about their properties is new and it’s not as familiar a process as filing your income taxes every year. These notices were sent to raise awareness with residential property owners ahead of the declaration period`s start date in January.
The letters contained your roll number and access code, and many residents were worried about losing it. Don’t worry. Another reminder notice was issued to homeowners in early January, along with the same roll number and access code for easy reference.
You can also find your roll number and access code at the top of your property tax bill. You may also complete your declaration online using your MyServiceOttawa account through the property tax service.
Why do I get the error “Property not found!” when searching for my property?
When searching for your property, it is important to carefully input the Access Code. The Access Code contains both letters and numbers which can be easily confused. For example, the letter O and the number 0, or the letter I and the number 1. If you continue to have difficult completing the property search step, contact Revenue Services at 613-580-2444 or by e-mail at email@example.com
It’s an online declaration – but how about who people need assistance?
We understand not everyone has access to a computer, tablet or internet access. Also, many residents require accessibility supports. The City is providing additional options and assistance to help you complete the declaration.
Call Revenue Services at 613-580-2444 and selecting option 3 to complete a declaration over the phone, or to book an in-person appointment at the Mary Pitt Centre at 100 Constellation Drive. Provide your roll number and access code and verify your personal information.
The Canada Video Relay service will also be available at 613-580-2400. The service uses internet and mobile phone technologies to connect the caller with real-time sign language interpretation.
Remember, the City of Ottawa will not contact you directly to acquire any personal information regarding the Vacant Unit Tax.
Why do all residential property owners need to declare, and not just those which have investment or income properties?
To get up-to-date, complete and accurate data, the City of Ottawa requires all residential property owners to complete the declaration. The declaration form will be easy to use and will take you five minutes to complete.
The City has researched Vacant Unit Tax models in other cities in Canada and around the globe. The mandatory declaration by property owners has proven to be the most successful model. Alternative models such as voluntary declarations or complaint based were found to be ineffective, inefficient and inequitable to property owners.
My property is occupied by a permitted occupant who is not the property owner, will I be charged the Vacant Unit Tax?
If a property was used a principal residence, whether this be for a permitted occupant or the property owner, the vacant unit tax will not be charged. A principal residence is defined as a residential property where a person ordinarily resides, makes their home, and conducts their daily affairs. It is the property at which they receive their bills, income tax returns, vehicle registration and other similar mailings. A person can only have one principal residence. When completing the declaration, you will need to indicate the name of the permitted occupant who is using the property as their principal residence.
I own more than one residential property; do I need to submit more than one declaration?
Yes. A declaration must be submitted for each residential property roll number.