What it costs to implement and administer the Empty Homes Tax

City has so far pulled in $18 million of anticipated $30 million in first year

The City of Vancouver has pulled in $18 million so far from the Empty Homes Tax out of what's anticipated to be $30 million in the first year.

More than half of the $18 million is going towards one-time implementation costs ($7.4 million) and operating costs ($2.6 million).

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(Council approved recommendations this week on how the remaining $8 million will be spent. It’s allocated for affordable housing initiatives. Read the details HERE.)

Here’s how the one-time $7.4 million implementation cost breaks down. The cost, spread over 2016, 2017 and 2018, included project team resources, set-up costs for the new administration, audit and collection team costs and technology costs to automate the process:

  • $800,000: project team ($80,000 less than originally budgeted)
  • $850,000: business support ($670,000 more than originally budgeted)
  • $2.1 million: technical ($650,000 more than originally budgeted)
  • $2.75 million: professional services ($1.35 million more than originally budgeted)
  • $400,000: hardware and software ($300,000 more than originally budgeted)
  • $500,000: contingency ($190,000 less than originally budgeted)

Business support, according to a June 20, 2017 staff report, included internal subject matter experts in areas such as revenue services, tax policy, housing policy, legal services and communications. It also covered costs for Vacancy Tax Department staff who had to be hired earlier than expected.

Technical support included internal resources, 3-1-1, website development, and systems configuration and testing. Calls to 3-1-1 were higher than anticipated so additional 3-1-1 staff were needed for 2017.

Professional services included IT software vendor costs, modifications to two existing systems that cost double the original estimate. The city report also noted that other increases to this budget related to the cost of an additional mail-out sent to property owners and the addition of targeted advertising. Based on the solution design, other items were also identified — the largest portion this cost was associated with the upgrade of the phone system.

First-year operating costs, which amount to $2.6 million, include:

  • $775,000: tax administration staffing
  • $940,000: review and compliance staffing
  • $250,000: notice and advertising
  • $270,000: IT support and maintenance
  • $385,000: 3-1-1 call centre and maintenance





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