The B.C. government has released new data on the impact of its speculation and vacancy tax, showing that 0.2 per cent of British Columbians are paying the tax.

"Based on the data the first year declarations the tax is working as we intended," said Carole James, finance minister. "99.8 per cent of British Columbia is are not paying the speculation and vacancy tax. It is in fact targeting speculators, people living outside of British Columbia, and it's also helping to encourage homes to be used to house people not to be used for speculation." 

When asked if she believes everyone has been honest in making their empty homes declaration, James said the government has a vigorous audit process that is already underway. 

"If people are really illegally trying to avoid the taxes, people should be notifying the tax department, because it is illegal for people to avoid their taxes when legitimately they should be paying their taxes," James said. 

James added the government has collected $115 million from the tax so far, and is forecasting revenue of $185 in 2019/2020, money it has earmarked for affordable housing initiatives. A total of 11,783 homeowners are paying the tax.

James credits the tax with helping to reduce home prices across Metro Vancouver. 

"We've been looking all along for this type of moderation, I don't know that there would be a British Columbian that would tell you we've reached affordability yet," she said. "But certainly cautiously optimistic and seeing that kind of drop, over eight per cent, as a positive sign." 

If Liberal leader Justin Trudeau wins re-election, speculators and foreign owners will be taxed by the federal government as well. 

At a campaign stop in Victoria this morning Trudeau said he wants "to tackle the effect foreign speculators are having on the affordability of homes in our biggest cities," and that he "will also introduce a modest one per cent annual tax on residential properties owned by people who are not Canadian and do not live in Canada."