Real estate registry proposed by B.C. NDP Government. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press)

B.C. creates public registry to track real estate owners

The first registry of its kind in Canada aims to end the hidden property ownership

The B.C. government is looking to launch a new registry, open to the public, that will list anyone who owns real estate in the province.

The registry, a first in Canada, aims to end the hidden ownership of property.

Finance Minister Carol James said Wednesday the registry will give tax auditors and law enforcement agencies information needed to fight tax evasion, tax fraud and money laundering.

“British Columbia has developed a reputation as an attractive place to anonymously invest and hide wealth. Right now in B.C., real estate investors can hide behind numbered companies, offshore and domestic trusts, and corporations,” James said.

The proposed legislation is part of a report that includes the draft of the land owner transparency act, which could authorize the collection of beneficial ownership information, as well as the creation and administration of the public registry.

The public can share feedback on that report until Aug. 19.

Other plans include introducing a new law to track pre-sale condominium contract assignments, sharing information on the homeowner grant with federal tax officials, and establishing a federal-provincial working group on tax fraud and money laundering.

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