Foreign buyers lured by loopholes, low dollar

'Bare trust' lets offshore investors duck property transfer tax, while local residents are priced out of Metro Vancouver housing, NDP says

Finance Minister Mike de Jong

While young people struggle to rent or buy a home in Metro Vancouver, overseas investors are snapping up high-end commercial real estate thanks to a low Canadian dollar and loopholes in the property transfer tax, opposition MLAs say.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong changed the tax rules in his latest budget to exempt buyers of new homes up to $750,000, and increased the rate from two to three per cent for value over $2 million. But the province continues to reap a windfall on resold homes, the vast majority of the market, with one per cent on the first $200,000 and two per cent on value between $200,000 and $2 million.

NDP housing critic David Eby says the tax not only drives up already unaffordable home prices, it can still be avoided by offshore investors buying up downtown Vancouver office towers like the Bentall Centre and Royal Centre.

The NDP and some municipal officials are also calling for a non-resident tax on residential purchases, to deter foreign buyers from buying property and leaving it empty as values climb.

“There is a huge frustration in Metro Vancouver that spreads all the way up to Squamish, where people are tired of the fact that their wages have no connection to real estate prices, and they are fed up,” Eby said.

The province is moving to restore citizenship and residency declarations for real estate purchasers, but de Jong says he needs to collect data to measure the problem of non-resident investors before taking action.

Data are also needed for a commercial property technique developed to avoid the property purchase tax when it was imposed in 1987. A “bare trust” separates legal and beneficial ownership, allowing the property to change hands without paying the transfer tax.

De Jong said bare trusts and share transfers, where the registered owner doesn’t change but controlling interest does, are long-accepted business practices.

“We actually do encourage people to come to British Columbia and invest,” de Jong said. “The purpose here is to ensure that they are paying their fair share, that they are abiding by the laws that British Columbians and Canadians must abide by, and to ensure that we have to make sure we have the information necessary to enforce those rules.”

 

Just Posted

Wiring problems suspected in fire that destroyed Langley woodworking shop

It took about 12 hours before the fire was completely extinguished

Letter: Langley taxpayers face unwelcome bill because of last place candidate

A local letter writer questions candidate Serena Oh’s post-election moves.

VIDEO: More take part in annual hazardous waste collection weekend in the Langleys

A slight increase in hazardous goods and a big increase in food bank donations was reported

Letter: Standing guard at Langley City Cenotaph

Cadets from 746 Lightning Hawk Royal Canadian Air Cadets and 2277 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps

LETTER: Canada should not be selling weapons abroad

A Langley man is critical of Canada for selling arms that are being used to kill civilians.

VIDEO: Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee dies

Marvel co-creator was well-known for making cameo apperances in superhero movies

18-year-old to hospital after shots fired in White Rock

Police investigating early-morning incident

Shelter struggles: Landlord takes over rental unit whenever visiting B.C. town

Renter’s story highlights how hard it is to find accommodation in Revelstoke

‘Weird Al’ brings Strings Attached tour to Lower Mainland next summer

Legendary musical satirist performs with full symphony orchestra

Lack of public response threatens B.C. referendum credibility

Of the few who have voted, poll finds most rejected proportional representation

Tentative deal reached in NHL concussion lawsuit

More than 100 former players accused the league of failing to better prevent head trauma

Grim search for more fire victims; 31 dead across California

More than 8,000 firefighters battled wildfires that scorched at least 1,040 square kilometres

Politicians need to do better on social media, Trudeau says

Prime minister suggests at conference in Paris some are trying to use technology to polarize voters

Wally Buono exits CFL, stinging from painful playoff loss

B.C. Lions lost the Eastern semifinal to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday, 48-8

Most Read