31 Jul B.C. Foreign Property Tax
Last week the B.C. Liberal government imposed a 15% tax on all non-residents purchasing property in GVRD. One can debate the amount of tax, to low to high, etc., but the fact that the tax was imposed retroactively on contracts written prior with a future closing date is simply wrong.
I like most in the industry understand that this ridiculous implementation will impact local residents, non-residents may simply not want to complete on their previous agreed to purchase contract.
I wrote to the premier, and the following is a copy of this email:
Hello Madame Premier,
I am a resident of Richmond, living in Terra Nova, I have also been a mortgage professional for 30 years.
There is a severe flaw in the upcoming foreign buyer tax bill that relates to real estate purchase contracts that have been previously entered into.
For the record, my issue is not with the tax and to be frank, I thought something should have been done some time ago.
What myself and so many others that are familiar with the industry are concerned about is that foreign buyers who previously entered into contracts may choose to just not complete based on the extra tax which in turn would create a hardship for most likely a Canadian resident.
An example of this would be a foreigner with a home under contract for $3,000,000 and a deposit in the range of $150,000. Most likely if they were now informed they need to come up with another $450,000, there could be some serious consideration to not completing the transaction leaving the seller in jeopardy. Usually, when one is selling their home, they are purchasing another home and without the current home being sold there most likely will be an inability to complete the new transaction. Furthermore, this could have a domino effect down the line as others having made commitments from one seller/buyer to another.
In the past my industry has had to deal with various changes in federal mortgage guidelines, these changes honored contracts or mortgage commitments already issued. The new guidelines were never retroactive.
I encourage you to have this bill amended.
Michael Friedman, AMP
If you are wondering if I received a response, I did, but it was nothing more than an acknowledgment of the email and that it would be forwarded to the Minster of Finance.
You have to wonder about the logic behind the implementation of this tax and what message it sends to individuals and organization looking at investing in B.C. If I were an outsider investor looking in I would be asking myself .” If I invest in B.C. will this government create further retroactive taxes”?
Below is a copy of the Foreign Buyer Property Transfer Tax.
Ministry of Finance
Tax Information Sheet
ISSUED: July 2016 Information Sheet 2016-006
PO Box 9427 Stn Prov Gov Victoria BC V8W 9V1
Additional Property Transfer Tax on Residential Property Transfers to Foreign Entities in the Greater Vancouver Regional District
Property Transfer Tax Act
Effective August 2, 2016, an additional property transfer tax applies to residential property transfers to foreign entities in the Greater Vancouver Regional District.
The Greater Vancouver Regional District includes Anmore, Belcarra, Bowen Island, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, Langley City and Township, Lion’s Bay, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, North Vancouver City and District, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver, West Vancouver, White Rock and Electoral Area A. The additional tax does not apply to properties located on Tsawwassen First Nation lands.
The additional tax applies on all applicable transfers registered with the Land Title Office on or after August 2, 2016, regardless of when the contract of purchase and sale was entered into.
Foreign entities are transferees that are foreign nationals, foreign corporations or taxable trustees.
Foreign nationals are transferees who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents, including stateless persons.
Foreign corporations are transferees that are corporations:
• not incorporated in Canada or
• incorporated in Canada, but controlled in whole or in part by a foreign national or other foreign corporation, unless the shares of the corporation are listed on a Canadian stock exchange
Taxable trustees are trustees that are a foreign national or foreign corporation, or a beneficiary of a trust that is a foreign national or foreign corporation.
Applying the Additional Tax
The additional tax on property transfers to foreign entities is 15% of the fair market value of the foreign entity’s proportionate share of a residential property located in whole or in part in the Greater Vancouver Regional District, excluding Tsawwassen First Nation lands. This tax applies in addition to the general property transfer tax.
The additional tax does not apply to non-residential property. The value of the residential portion of a transfer is calculated in the same way as for the property transfer tax.
The additional tax applies on the foreign entity’s proportionate share of any applicable residential property transfer, even when the transaction may normally be exempt from property transfer tax. This includes transactions such as:
• a transfer between related individuals
• a transfer resulting from an amalgamation
• a transfer to a surviving joint tenant
• a transfer where the transferee is or becomes a trustee in relation to the property, even if the trust does not change
The additional tax does not apply to trusts that are mutual fund trusts, real estate investment trusts or specified investment flow-through trusts.
Filing and Paying the Additional Tax
Filing the Return
Foreign entities registering a transfer, or their legal representative, must file an Additional Property Transfer Tax Return (FIN 532). The return must be filed at the time the property transfer is registered with the Land Title Office. Filing instruction can be found on the return, or at gov.bc.ca/propertytransfertax on the File Your Taxes page.
Paying the Additional Tax
The additional tax must be paid with the general property transfer tax at the time the property transfer is registered with the Land Title Office.
Each transferee is jointly and severally liable for the additional tax payable. If one transferee does not pay the required additional tax, the other transferees, including Canadians, must pay that transferee’s share of the additional tax payable.
All property transfer transactions are subject to audit and all additional property transfer tax returns will be reviewed and verified. The audit period is six years from the date the transfer is registered at the Land Title Office.
Where transactions involve Canadian citizens, the Canadian citizen’s social insurance number must be collected and their identification verified against official government issued identification such as a Canadian passport. Invalid social insurance numbers or other discrepancies on a return will lead to an audit and investigation of the transaction.
Anti-avoidance provisions exist and will be enforced to ensure all foreign entities report and pay the additional tax as required, including examining circumstances where Canadians hold property in trust for a foreign entity or are trustees where a beneficiary may be a foreign entity.
Failure to pay the additional tax as required or purposely completing the general or additional property transfer tax return with incorrect or misleading information may result in a penalty of the unpaid tax plus interest and a fine of $200,000 for corporations or $100,000 for individuals and/or up to two years in prison. The penalties apply to anyone who participates in tax avoidance.
Property transfers will be monitored for compliance and the province will follow up with those businesses or individuals filing incomplete or incorrect general or additional property transfer tax returns.
Online: gov.bc.ca/propertytransfertax Toll free in BC: 1 888 355-2700 Email: email@example.com
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The information in this notice is for your convenience and guidance and is not a replacement for the legislation.