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Green Party Leader says approach to speculation tax needs to change

FILE: A sold home is pictured in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver is not supportive of how the NDP government is handling the speculation tax

Homeowners who don't fill out the form will be charged the tax

Those who miss the March 31 deadline can go online or phone the tax department to say they have been exempt

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — The province is moving ahead with charging people who are leaving homes sitting empty, but B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver wants no part in how they are doing it.

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Homes will be taxed as empty unless the owner fills out the online form declaring that it is not.

“What’s going to happen when everybody gets their notification in the Spring, and you start getting cheques in the mail because people interpret it as a bill — and they will,” he says.

Weaver says this ‘negative’ approach is the wrong way to go about it.

RELATED:¬†Greens demand change of B.C. government’s new speculation tax

“The B.C. NDP wanted to implement this academic idea that they hadn’t thought through, and they kludged it through and listened a little bit, but it’s their baby and they can defend it. I’m not defending it,” he says.

He says he supported going after empty homes, but in a different way.

“We also proposed enabling local governments to actually implement a vacancy tax. We know that those measures would have dealt with a problem in a laser-focused way,” he says.

RELATED: B.C. finance minister says speculation tax will tackle housing crisis

Finance Minister Carole James says its like Vancouver’s empty home tax; those who miss the March 31 deadline can go online or phone the tax department and say they are exempt and they’ve filled out the form, and they won’t have to pay.

Notification letters started going out this month to the nearly 1.6 million homes in regions affected by the tax – that includes metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Around 98 per cent are exempt from the tax.