Underused Housing Tax (UHT) For Residential Properties
Whistler Accountants interpreted The Government of Canada’s (GOC) Underused Housing Tax Act (UHT) and noted that clarity was required regarding rental and business income properties. This tax pertains to some residents and all non-residents of Canada. For residents, it comes down to who is on the title for the property. See the link above for all the restrictions. Note: the author of this blog is a realtor, not an accountant. It is important to read the UHT government page and talk with your accountant.
The UHT Act affects non-resident owners. The GOC site refers to an annual 1% tax on the ownership of vacant or underused residential housing. Meaning that the non-resident owner (or their spouse, or common law partner) of a property used as a residence has to make use of the property for more than 28 days to be exempt from the UHT. One would hope that anyone owning a home in Whistler is enjoying the mountains and nature more than 28 days a year.
What about Rental Properties?
Whistler accountants and rental property management companies have requested a ruling from the GOC regarding rental properties and properties used for business income. The zonings in question are Phase 1, Phase 2, Tourist Accommodation, and fractional ownership. Nothing is mentioned in the UHT Act about this segment of non-resident owners.
UHT and Residential Property
The Government of Canada slipped in a 1% Underused Housing Tax (UHT) in June 2022. This tax was virtually unannounced. It wasn’t until people started preparing for their 2022 taxes for the April 30, 2023 deadline, that the UHT became a discussion in Whistler, and for good reason. The UHT 2022 filing deadline has since moved to October 31, 2023, in order to sort out the confusion about rental properties.
Excluded Owners of Residential Property
An excluded owner includes but is not limited to a Canadian Citizen or permanent resident of a residential property in Canada. You have no obligations or liabilities under the Underused Housing Tax Act. However, there is a list of excluded owners based on the name on the title of the property. Read the GOC’s Underused Housing Tax Act (UHT).
Affected Owners (Non-residents) of Residential Property
Note: This only applies to you if you, or your spouse or common-law partner don’t personally use your residential property for more than 28 days each year.
An affected owner includes, but is not limited to a:
- Non-resident of Canada
- Canadian corporation whose shares are not listed on a Canadian stock exchange designated for Canadian income tax purposes
- Canadian corporation without share capital.
If you are an affected owner (non-resident of Canada) you must file an UHT return for each residential property that you own in Canada on December 31. You must also pay the UHT unless your ownership qualifies for an exemption, e.g. 28 days of personal use for the calendar year. Even if your ownership qualifies for an exemption, that is, 28 days of personal use you must still file an Underused Housing Tax return for the calendar year.
Property rented out nightly..the Big Question.
When a buyer defers the GST payment in order to purchase a property zoned for nightly rental, they are committing to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) that the property will be made available for nightly rentals. There is no ruling that says that if the GST is deferred that the owner is allowed to use the property for a percentage of the year, whenever they want. The understanding is that the property always has to be available for rental.
Now, if the owner of the property wants to use their rental property for a couple of weeks, that seems to be a non-issue with the CRA. However, usage of the property at will, is not what the CRA and owner agreed to when the GST was deferred. So, the current question is, how do you make a property available for nightly rentals and yet, mandate that it needs to be used for a minimum of 28 days in a year?
Other Rental and Business Income Properties
In addition to nightly rentals, what about Phase 2, Quarter Shares and tenanted properties? Again, there was no ruling on the:
- Phase 2 property where the owner has the option of using the property up to 28 days in winter and 28 days in summer. When it is not being used it is in the rental pool.
- A residence that is rented out monthly or tenanted.
- A non-resident owns a quarter share of a property that they rent out one week a month.
How to calculate the tax payable
The tax rate of the underused housing tax is 1%. Generally, to calculate the underused housing tax payable, each affected owner of a residential property has to apply the 1% tax rate to the value of the residential property and then apply their respective ownership percentage of the residential property.
For example, the market value of your house is $1M, and UHT 1% is $10,000. The $10,000 is payable by the one name on the title, or if there are two names on the title, then each owner is responsible for paying $5,000.
Please remember this post has been drafted to give a brief synopsis of the UHT. It explains basic (non-accounting) terms and explains the situation for non-residents who are considering the purchase of a revenue property in Whistler. Best to read the COG’s Underused Housing Tax Act document or contact your BC accountant.
If you think I would be a good fit to work with you and your family, and you are not working with a Whistler realtor, please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.
It’s a Good Life in Whistler!
Marion Anderson Personal Real Estate Corporation
email@example.com (604) 938-3885