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Over 1,500 Ottawa properties audited under Vacant Unit Tax

Ottawa City Hall (File photo) Ottawa City Hall (File photo)
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The City of Ottawa says it has audited 1,525 properties through the Vacant Unit Tax by-law, with more residences being subject to a review in the coming months.

A statement to CTV News Ottawa by the city's deputy treasurer Joseph Muhuni, confirmed the number on Thursday but would not provide more details on the process.

The Vacant Unit Tax was implemented by council in 2022 to encourage homeowners to occupy or rent their properties to address the affordable housing crisis in the city. All revenue collected from the tax will go into the city's funds for more affordable housing.

All property owners in the city were required to register the status of their property during the previous year.

In a memo released in October, the city says there were 3,743 vacant homes in the city in 2022. 

A letter shared by a resident who was audited shows the city is asking them to provide at least two documents to prove the occupancy status of their home in 2022.

Audited residents are being given 30 days upon receipt of the letter to provide the documents to the city.

Residents must provide two of the following if they are audited in the process:

• An Ontario vehicle registration or vehicle insurance documentation of any occupant of the residence

• Government-issued personal identification of any occupant

• A minimum of seven months of utility bills in the name of the occupant (hydro, gas, internet, etc.)

• Any government correspondence showing the occupant's name and address

Those who do not comply with the audit request will be charged the Vacant Unit Tax. A letter of determination will be issued and additional fines or penalties could be considered, the letter said.

Properties that are vacant for more than 184 days of the previous calendar year are taxed at a rate of one per cent of the property's assessed value.

The city says all property status declarations are subject to an audit process, in line with other provincial and federal tax programs.

All declarations may be subject to audit for up to two years after the date of declaration.

Audited residents are being asked to upload their evidence to their My ServiceOttawa accounts or through a secured link, registered mail or in-person at the city Revenue Services location on Constellation Drive.

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