Bozeman, we have a problem. Now, don't let the title fool you, I'm not a tax guy.  However, I think what I'm going to propose might even sway those of you who might be a little cynical.

We all know that the housing crisis is taking a toll on the town's residents. Long-time Bozemanites who've dreamed of homeownership are moving away or realizing that owning a home here is not in their future anytime soon. Those who are stuck with renting are paying outrageous prices, and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.

If only there was a solution to the problem.  Well, maybe there is.

Have you ever heard of the EHT? EHT stands for Empty Home Tax and it's a property tax that was introduced in Vancouver Canada back in 2016.

You see, Vancouver became a popular tourist destination and wealthy people flocked there to buy properties so that they could be part-time residents and enjoy the beauty and activities that Vancouver had to offer. The issue was the locals who lived and worked in Vancouver couldn't afford the cost of living as property values continued to skyrocket.

Sound familiar?

The way that EHT works in Vancouver is that there is a taxed percentage based on the value of the property.  If that property is vacant for six months or more a year, the tax kicks in.  It started out at 1%, then moved to 1.25%.  It's now at 3% for 2021.

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The purpose of the tax wasn't and isn't to raise money, but to charge enough through the tax that those that with vacant properties would make them available for occupancy. It's worked well in Vancouver, so much so that other Mountain Towns/Cities are looking into the idea of implementing it in their communities.

So is that something that should be discussed here in Bozeman?  Should our city leaders put this on the table for debate?  Would you support such an idea?  It wouldn't cost property owners who live here full time a dime, and all the money raised would be from those that own property that is currently vacant at least half of the year.

You could even tweak the tax and say any property that is vacant for 3 months or more would be subject to the tax. As I stated in the beginning, I'm not a fan of taxes, but this certainly seems like a solution to a problem, even if it's a start.

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