Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong. Photo: Ray Hudson

Abbotsford: With bills for the BC NDP government’s new Speculation Tax set to start arriving today, Abbotsford homeowners are in for an unpleasant surprise. The BC NDP government announced this week it would use negative-option billing to implement the controversial new tax – meaning all homeowners across B.C.’s urban centres can expect a bill in the mail, and it will be up to them to prove whether they qualify for an exemption. Abbotsford is one of the areas targeted by the tax.

“By billing every homeowner for this tax, the NDP is treating Abbotsford residents like speculators in their own province,” says Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong. “These are hardworking people who contribute to our economy and care for our community. They deserve better from their government.”

The situation is made more confusing by the government’s own admission that most B.C. homeowners will qualify for one of over 30 exemptions for this tax. Homeowners are exempt if they prove their home is their principal residence, that it is rented for at least six months of the year, or that they have been away from their home for specified work, family, or medical reasons. They must file a declaration by March 31, 2019 to avoid paying the maximum tax rate of two per cent on the assessed value of their property. Despite these exemptions, the majority of people paying this supposed Speculation Tax will be British Columbians.

“In Abbotsford – and indeed, across the province – you’re going to have more people opting out of this tax than actually paying it,” continues de Jong. “While the vast majority of people will qualify for an exemption, they will be obliged to apply for this exemption or face a dramatic increase in the tax they must pay. The government has created a completely backward system and Abbotsford residents are going to pay for it – whether with their time or their dollars.”