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Members of Congress lead bipartisan push urging US to address Canada's underused housing tax


Fri, May 26th 2023 01:35 pm

As summer cottage season begins, leaders want Canada to hold neighbors harmless

In a bipartisan letter, members of Congress are urging the U.S. secretary of state to work with the government of Canada to find a solution to exempt Americans from Canada’s Underused Housing Tax. The push comes ahead of Memorial Day weekend, which typically marks the start of the busy cross-border summer season for cottage owners.

Joining the letter led by Congressmembers Brian Higgins and Claudia Tenney are Reps. Joe Courtney, Nicholas Langworthy, Mike Kelly, Andy Kim, Brian Mast, Paul Tonko, Jennifer Wexton, Nancy Mace and Max Miller.

Signed by Democrats and Republicans from six states, the members note the concerns they are hearing from residents: “We write to you today to voice frustration and concern on behalf of our constituents impacted by the Government of Canada’s recently implemented Underused Housing Tax. This 1% tax on vacant or underutilized properties owned by ‘non-resident, non-Canadians,’ is unfairly impacting Americans who own property in Canada and putting the strong bond between our countries in jeopardy.”

Higgins added, “For generations, many Americans have owned property in Canada, acting as good neighbors and supporting the Canadian economy. The Underused Housing Tax is an insulting and unjustified attack on these Americans who use these properties not as a prospective investment but as a second home. The tax shouldn’t be imposed on Americans. It sets a dangerous precedent for actions that damage a robust binational exchange.”

Tenney said, “Canada’s Underused Housing Tax is a poorly conceived policy that threatens to drive a wedge between the United States and Canada. Many of my constituents have owned small homes or other properties in Canada for generations, and proposing this tax on them is unfair and unjust. Today, I join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in urging the secretary of state to work with the Canadian government to rectify this misguided policy.”

Tonko said, “Despite the initial intent of the Underused Housing Tax to prevent foreign real estate speculation, it has led to American homeowners being unfairly targeted and made to foot the bill. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues to uplift the concerns of our constituents and call for a solution to this problem.”

Higgins’ team said, “Proposed in the government of Canada’s budget 2021, the Underused Housing Tax is being collected for the first time this year. The 1% additional property tax was initially due by April 30, 2023. However, confusion, lack of information and delays in obtaining the required tax ID number, caused the government of Canada to announce it was postponing fines associated with late Underused Housing Tax returns, which range between $5,000 and $10,000, until Oct. 31, 2023. The Congress members are advocating for a solution to be reached before that deadline.”

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