Expect Vancouver’s empty home tax by 2017

A weekly roundup of news and views on money, markets, the economy and more

The City of Vancouver expects to implement an annual tax of up to two per cent of assessed property value on empty and underutilized homes by the end of the year. The tax, which will be administered through self-declaration (like principal residency), audits and complaint response, will target owners of Vancouver’s 10,800 empty homes to encourage them to rent them out. A tax on just five per cent of those homes could raise about $2 million in annual revenue to be reinvested into the City’s affordable housing initiatives. (City of Vancouver

Vancouver-based law firm Bull Housser is merging with U.K. firm Norton Rose Fulbright. The move is the most recent in a series of law firm mergers as the legal industry consolidates. Bull Housser, which is 126 years old and has about 90 lawyers, and the British firm, with more than 3,800 lawyers in 50 offices around the world, will combine under the Norton Rose Fulbright name. (Financial Post

In 2015, the technology industry contributed $1.3 billion to the Okanagan economy, including direct revenues of $1.02 billion generated by technology companies and an indirect impact of $284 million from businesses supplying inputs to the technology sector. A study commissioned by Kelowna-based techology accelerator Accelerate Okanagan to assess two-year growth of the Okanagan technology sector found it had contributed an additional $300 million of revenue to the Okanagan economy since 2013—30 per cent growth in two years. (Accelerate Okanagan

Globalization hasn’t harmed middle class incomes in rich countries after all. A new study by the Resolution Foundation, a British charity that supports the interests of people with low to middle incomes, has found that faster population growth in emerging markets made it difficult to compare the incomes of lower middle classes as their incomes changed over time and that domestic policy is generally responsible for weak income growth. (Financial Times

Canadian banks go easy on foreign home buyers, according to the latest investigation by Globe and Mail reporter Kathy Tomlinson. Unlike Canadians, who must prove their sources of income when applying for a mortgage, Canadian banks allow foreign clients with no credit history, including students, to qualify for uninsured mortgages without proving the sources of their income. (The Globe and Mail