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BC  

Greens force tax change

Just 48 hours after the B.C. government introduced its planned speculation and vacancy tax, amendments are being made to ensure the legislation passes with the support of the Green party.

Finance Minister Carole James and Green Leader Andrew Weaver announced three changes to the bill introduced Tuesday that aims to cool the real estate market and convince owners of vacant homes to sell or rent their properties.

James says the Green amendments would cut the tax rate for all Canadians who own vacant properties in certain urban areas in B.C. to 0.5 per cent from one per cent, while revenues from the tax would be directed in the communities they are collected.

The legislation would also establish an annual meeting between the mayors of the affected communities and the finance minister to review the tax.

Green Leader Andrew Weaver says while it's not the approach he would have taken, these changes will improve the bill and mitigate the key issues he has identified.

Opposition Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson says the government is writing tax policy on the fly, which now includes reduced revenues from the proposed changes.

Mayors from across B.C., including West Kelowna, Kelowna and Langford, lobbied the government for an opt-out option for the tax, saying it could create an economic downturn in communities where many people own vacation properties.



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