Canadian Government Moves to Using Cubic Feet for Determining Property Tax; US to Follow

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – New tax rules will come into play next year when the government switches from using square feet to determine property taxes to using cubic feet. The government aims to snag a larger piece of the pie especially given that housing starts have been at their highest level in 15 years. Some housing owners are furious with the new law, but others are surprisingly quite pleased.

“There’s a huge difference between a 7-foot ceiling and a 10-foot ceiling,” said Arman Bonocello an owner of a relatively small duplex just steps from the downtown area. “Houses with taller ceiling clearly have a lot more space and are more valuable. Therefore their owners should pay higher taxes if they wish to maintain these houses.”

For years the government has overlooked the impact on livability that a few feet of ceiling space can have on a residence. Consider in a 500 square foot home that the difference between a 7 foot ceiling and a 10 foot ceiling adds 1500 cubic feet. There is more fresh air for breathing, a sizable increase in headroom, and a larger visual space.

One Chinatown resident, Xi Yuan, wasn’t too keen on the new proposal after an online estimator claimed his house was 145,000 cubic feet when it had factored in a small hole, 1 square foot in diameter, in Yuan’s ceiling.

“It says my property taxes to increase by $200,000. I cannot afford this!”

Yuan has put his small 400sqft home up for sale in anticipation of the new rule set, after his appeal was declined by MPAC, the governing body that claims to set cubic footage accurately and fairly. MPAC has been criticized for years for its sloppy square foot measurement practices. In the past, homeowners have complained of significant rounding errors and area within external walls being counted as part of the square footage even if it is technically not accessible by the resident.

Housing starts have begun to trend down slightly, falling 0.14% in the past month as investors are standing on the sidelines waiting for the smoke to clear. Current owners are flocking to Home Depot to block off chimney tops so that the governments automated and accurate cubic foot measuring tool does not include living space in the airspace above dwellings. One thing is clear; the new cubic footage scheme will greatly benefit the government and those with retractable rooftops.