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Speculation tax declaration requirements under scrutiny

By Jeremy Hainsworth for Business in Vancouver

Requirements that B.C. taxpayers provide social insurance numbers, email addresses and phone numbers while filing speculation and vacancy tax declarations are being examined by the province’s information and privacy commissioner.

“We are aware of the concerns and our office is currently considering matters related to the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information for the purpose of administrating the speculation tax,” office spokeswoman Jane Zatylny said.

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Finance Minister Carole James has said the tax targets foreign and domestic speculators owning residences in B.C. but not paying tax in the province; aims to turn empty homes into housing; and seeks to raise revenue to support affordable housing in communities where the tax applies.

Earlier this year, property owners received letters with a declaration identification number allowing them to go online and fill out a declaration. The form also asked for birthdates and for information on property – such as whether is it a principal residence or rented out.

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