Couple billed $6K in B.C. speculation tax, believes retirees targeted unfairly

Retiree has lived in Mitchell Street home for 67 years

Denise Pettersson Simpson has been living in the bright yellow house on Mitchell Street since she was five.

The 72-year-old took the house over when her mom died in 1993 and has since lived in it, off and on, with her husband Robert Simpson, 93.

Simpson is a U.S. citizen and retired U.S. Army veteran, while Pettersson Simpson worked her entire life in the U.S. on permit and now retains her Canadian citizenship. The two have split their retired lives between their Mitchell Street home and San Antonio, Tx.

This year the couple was served a $6,000 bill for speculation tax due in part to their U.S. residency and to Simpson’s name on title. They live off of retirement pensions, including a tax free pension that Simpson receives for suffering career-ending injuries in battle.

READ MORE: Taxes force sale of Oak Bay’s ‘Tulip House’

They told the Oak Bay News they don’t know how they’ll be able to afford the house, especially if the speculation tax increases to 2 per cent, which foreign owners pay (both names are on the house title).

“The speculation tax doesn’t go far enough,” Pettersson Simpson said. “I imagine there are a lot of retired people who can’t afford this tax, people who are on retirement income. Unless you’re really wealthy, then it doesn’t matter.”

In other words, the speculation and vacancy tax squeezes the middle class out of their retirement plan but not the upper class who can afford it.

“Our mortgages are paid off,” Pettersson Simpson said. “There’s no reason we can’t own two houses. We paid for them. I want to keep my childhood home.

“It’s telling Americans that they are not welcome unless they spend a whole ton of money.”

The most prominent solution to the speculation and vacancy tax is to rent out the house. Not only do the two not rent out their house, at this stage in their life, they can barely comprehend the idea. They tend visit for about four to eight weeks at a time.

If they wanted to, they would have planned for it decades ago. The house is full of their personal effects — Pettersson Simpson regularly boxes and sells or donates things from the house — and they’re not in a position in their life to start new, Pettersson Simpson said.

READ ALSO: New B.C. residents not exempt from speculation and vacancy tax

“It doesn’t prevent speculation, people with money can still speculate,” she said.

The house and land are valued at $1.2 million by B.C. Assessment, yet the house is only valued at $218,000.

“If I tore it down I wouldn’t have to pay the tax,” she said.

In her eyes, that would be speculation.

“There’s a lot of retired people who are in similar situation. We can’t rent it now, there’s nowhere to put everything, we have to start getting rid of stuff. This is not what we had planned on.

Simpson pointed out they’ve already weathered 25 years of rising property taxes.

“I hope others who are retired and in this position can speak up,” she said.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Savona athletes bring bronze medals back from BC Winter Games

Akira Susanj and Alexander Teague both competed in Karate events

Drag races returning to Campbell Hill for Graffiti Days weekend

Four events are planned at the dragstrip starting in May

Historic Hat Creek set new visitor record during 2019 season

Heritage site looking to build on last year’s success in 2020

Interior Health leading the way with innovative therapy for stroke patients

Percentage of ischemic stroke patients who received treatment has risen dramatically

Former Clinton resident thinks he might have solved a history mystery

David Zant has a possible location near Clinton for where a historic picture was taken

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

UPDATE: Boy, 5, will donate organs after crash that killed father, son on B.C. highway

Mike Cochlin and sons Liam and Quinn were travelling on Highway 5A

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to meet today with federal and B.C. governments

Nationwide rail and road blockades have been popping up for weeks

Chinatowns across Canada report drop in business due to new coronavirus fears

Around the world, about 81,000 people have become ill with the virus

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

Trucking company fined $175K for Kootenay creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

Most Read