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

WIND WARNING: Metro Vancouver expecting 100 km/h gusts Saturday night

Environment Canada issues warns of possibly dangerous conditions

Civic cannabis plan gets the attention of White Rock business groups

Chamber to poll members, BIA would “absolutely support” businesses looking to open dispensaries

Totems to battle Wildcats for Surrey RCMP Basketball championship

Match set for 7:45 p.m. at Enver Creek Secondary

Pedestrian reportedly struck in Surrey

Man taken to hospital after being hit by a car at approximately 7 p.m.

Machete-wielding man arrested in North Delta

Police chased the man down Kittson Parkway before arresting him

VIDEO: Surrey reviewing Clayton crosswalk after pedestrian hit

The city says investigation in response to safety concerns from local resident

VIDEO: Remember the Voyageurs at Fort Langley

Two-day historical festival underway

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Snow warning in effect for the Coquihalla

A snowfall warning is in effect from Hope to Merritt as slush and snow is expected on highways this weekend

Vancouver hoping free public Wi-Fi expansion will drive tourism dollars

Mayor Gregor Robertson says expansion bolsters its “leading Smart City” status

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Most Read