B.C. eyes luxury tax on high-end property

Property transfer tax expected to produce $200M windfall for B.C. government this year, adding to housing cost pressure

Condo tower construction: increasing property transfer tax on high-end homes could be used to reduce tax load for lower-priced properties.

A roaring real estate market is expected to generate $200 million more than the province expected in property transfer tax this year, further pushing up housing costs in urban areas that are already beyond the reach of many people.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong says he is working on new ways to reduce the burden of a tax that hits properties every time they are sold. That could include a higher rate for high-priced properties, as suggested by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. He proposed it as a way of discourage property flipping in a city that sees bidding wars for all but the most costly homes.

Since the tax was brought in by former premier Bill Vander Zalm in 1987, its take has grown to more than $1 billion a year. Since its inception, it has charged one per cent on the first $200,000 of the home purchase price and two per cent on the rest, taking about $10,000 on the sale of a $600,000 home.

De Jong said this week he is considering adding a third step for high-end properties, with revenues used to reduce the burden on middle-priced homes. Another option considered for next February’s budget is to raise the exemption for first-time buyers, currently spared the tax up to $475,000.

“How many first-time buyers are purchasing homes in excess of that is a question that deserves to be asked before we tout a further reduction of that threshold,” de Jong said.

Statistics Canada reports that Vancouver’s housing price index was up 1.6 per cent in July, compared to the same month last year. Victoria’s index fell by 1.5 per cent.

Premier Christy Clark said in February she wants to eliminate the property transfer tax in the long term, once the province’s debt is reduced. De Jong’s financial update this week showed the province paying down operating debt accumulated since the recession of 2008-09.

NDP finance critic Carole James said the province is expecting a $277 million surplus this year, most of it accounted for by the windfall from property transfer tax.

“For an economy to rely on a hot housing market in the Lower Mainland and [Vancouver] Island is a problem,” James said. “We need a diverse economy.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pacific Coastal won’t open until community is ready

The company has suspended operations until further notice

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Celebrations continue for Tsilhqot’in Nation after court victory against Taskeo Mines Ltd.

Supreme Court of Canada upholds 2014 decision rejecting New Prosperity mine on May 14, 2020

UPDATE: body of missing man located

Jerret Snow was last seen May 19

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Andrew Weaver says he was ready to defeat John Horgan government

Independent MLA blasts B.C. Greens over LNG opposition

44% fewer passengers flew on Canadian airlines in March 2020 than in 2019

COVID-19 pandemic has hit airlines hard as travel remains low

Most Read