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

PHOTOS/VIDEO: Wings and Wheels set for weekend lift-off in Abbotsford

Fundraiser to raise money for Crystal Gala Foundation and the fight against breast cancer

Kelowna animal rights activist speaks out amid charges in 2019 Abbotsford hog-farm protest

Amy Soranno, along with three other activists, will appear in court on Sept. 3

Abbotsford aims to finally crack down on long-term bylaw-breakers

City boosts top fine for repeat offenders $50,000

Abbotsford restaurant fundraiser supports moms and kids in Mexico

Brodeur’s Bistro donates proceeds on Aug. 17 to Casa de Luz charity

POLICE/2020: Street checks by police down in Abbotsford, but no plans to completely end them

Figures show street checks in Abbotsford relatively representative of city’s population

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Death of 19-year-old killed in dramatic Fraser Valley car fire ruled ‘accidental’

Victim found with fentanyl in his system, bong and propane torch in front seat

Unofficial holidays: here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Aug. 16 to 22

World Photography Day, Black Cat Appreciation Day and Rum Day all coming up this week

Police warn of sex offender, with ‘high risk to re-offend,’ living in Lower Mainland

Howard Geddes-Skelding, 28, was released from BC Corrections Aug. 14, Surrey RCMP say

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Most Read