GUELPH ON [November 28, 2023] – Changes proposed by the federal government to its Underused Housing Tax (UHT) Act are welcome news for Ontario’s farmers. Announced in the recent Fall Economic Statement, the proposed changes would remove onerous filing requirements for farm corporations and farm partnerships who own more than one residence as well as reduce excessively high non-filing penalties.
“We appreciate the federal government listening to the concerns of the farming sector and announcing their intent to make these changes that will ease the UHT burden on farm businesses,” says Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) President Drew Spoelstra.
“Although most farmers would have been exempt from paying any actual tax, the filing of a UHT return is administratively burdensome. That’s why OFA, together with many other farm organization partners, has worked hard over the past year to raise awareness of the issue and advocate for change,” he adds.
The proposed changes still need to be introduced and passed through legislation in order to come into effect.
Farmers operating their businesses as a sole proprietor were already exempt from filing UHT returns, but if the legislation is passed, farm corporations and partnerships that are deemed to be Canadian owned (90% owned by Canadians) will also be exempt from filing a UHT return starting with the 2023 tax year. The penalties for failure to file a UHT return would also be reduced to $1,000 for an individual and $2,000 for a corporation form their current levels of $5,000 and $10,000 respectively.
UHT returns must still be filed for the 2022 tax year by the April 30, 2024 deadline in order to avoid non-filing fees.
The Underused Housing Tax Act received Royal Assent in June 2022. Intended to help alleviate the high cost of housing, it levies a 1% tax on the value of vacant and underused residential properties directly or indirectly owned by those who are not permanent residents or Canadian citizens.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is the largest general farm organization in Ontario, representing 38,000 farm families across the province and serving as the leading advocate and strongest voice of Ontario’s farmers. As a dynamic farmer-led organization based in Guelph, the OFA represents and champions the interests of Ontario farmers through government relations, farm policy recommendations, research, lobby efforts, community representation, media relations and more.
For more information, contact:
Director of Communications and Stakeholder Relations
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
519-821-8883 ext. 218