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

Just Posted

Candidate corner: Cowichan-Malahat-Langford hopefuls talk environment and climate change

This is part one of a four-part series outlining candidates’ thoughts on key topics

Pumps at Cowichan Lake shut down

Recent rain raised water levels

Cowichan United opens season with draw

Good start to season for Div. 2 women’s soccer team

Review: ‘Mrs. Warren’s Profession’ offers audiences a choice, and a lot to chew on

George Bernard Shaw 19th century morality play still rings true in 2019

Catch Michael Kaeshammer at the Cowichan Theatre on Sept. 26

Vibrant virtuosity and musical excitement is the name of the game when Kaeshammer takes the stage

‘I shouldn’t have done it,’ Trudeau says of brownface photo

Trudeau says he also wore makeup while performing a version of a Harry Belafonte song

35 of 87 dogs in 2018 Williams Lake seizure were euthanized due to behavioural issues, BCSPCA confirm

The dogs did not respond to the behaviour modification and remained terrified of humans

B.C. ‘tent city’ disputes spark call for local government autonomy

UBCM backs Maple Ridge after province overrules city

B.C. drug dealers arrested after traffic stop near Banff turns into helicopter pursuit

Antonio Nolasco-Padia, 23, and Dina Anthony, 55, both well-known to Chilliwack law enforcement

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Chilliwack woman wins right to medically assisted death after three-year court battle

Julia Lamb has been the lead plaintiff in a legal battle to ease restrictions on Canada’s assisted dying laws

B.C. bus crash survivor petitions feds to fix road where classmates died

UVic student’s petition well over halfway to 5k signature goal

Most Read