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.”

 

Just Posted

VIDEO: Researchers rely on drones to survey aftermath of B.C. wildfires

UBC researchers are using aerial drones to study the historic 2017 wildfires in the province

Gallery: After school games for young children at the Library

At the Houston Public Library on Dec. 7, 2017 there was after… Continue reading

Rent continues to rise in Prince Rupert, drops in Terrace

A report from Canadian Mortage and Housing Corporation shows the average rent has risen by $132

Gallery: Houston Secondary School food bank drive

Houston Secondary School (HSS) students did a food bank drive around the… Continue reading

In honour of James McEwen

Every year for Christmas, James McEwen would take delight in decorating his… Continue reading

VIDEO: Average Canadian food bill to rise by $348 in 2018

Atlantic Canada and B.C. will see the most increases for consumers

Owl found dead after eating rat poison leaves B.C. woman concerned

After finding the owl on her Surrey property, Christine Trozzo says the poison is a concern for kids

Change to CPP death benefit panned as insufficient to cover funeral costs

Funeral Services Association of Canada lobbied governments to raise the value to $3,580

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of sexual harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Accused B.C. drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

Most Read