Office of the Premier

Action on foreign investment, consumer protection and vacancy puts British Columbians first

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Office of the Premier

Action on foreign investment, consumer protection and vacancy puts British Columbians first

Media Contacts
Stephen Smart
Press Secretary Office of the Premier 778 389-6202
Jamie Edwardson
Communications Director Ministry of Finance 250 356-2821
Media Contacts
Stephen Smart
Press Secretary Office of the Premier 778 389-6202
Jamie Edwardson
Communications Director Ministry of Finance 250 356-2821

Backgrounders

Additional property transfer tax for foreign entities

Effective Aug. 2, 2016, foreign nationals, taxable trustees and foreign-controlled corporations registering their purchase of residential property in Metro Vancouver will pay an additional 15% tax on the residential component of the foreign interest in a property. The tax does not apply within the treaty lands of the Tsawwassen First Nation.

The additional tax presently only applies in the Metro Vancouver, but government can prescribe in regulation other areas where the additional tax would apply. The Province continues to monitor data on foreign investment and foreign ownership in B.C.’s real estate market.

Application:

A trustee will be subject to the additional tax if the trustee is a foreign entity, or if at least one beneficiary of the trust is a foreign entity. Similarly, a corporation would be liable if it is not incorporated in Canada, or if the corporation is incorporated in Canada but is controlled by foreign entities.

The additional tax will only apply to the portion of a property’s value that is for residential use. For example, if a foreign corporation purchases a mixed-use development that combines residential space with commercial space, the additional 15% tax will apply only to the portion of the property’s value that is for residential use.

Enforcement:

Audit measures already in place for the property transfer tax will be extended to encompass the additional tax. Additional auditors will be required and the process is underway to begin recruitment to ensure the additional tax is paid by those required to do so under the legislation.

The amendments extend the limitation period for audit and enforcement of the additional tax to six years. The existing limitation period for the regular tax is one year. The property transfer tax return form will be updated to require a Social Insurance Number from all transferees who are Canadian Citizens or permanent residents. Invalid social insurance numbers or other discrepancies on a return will lead to an audit and investigation of the transaction.

Avoidance Rules:

The amendments include anti-avoidance rules designed to capture transactions that are specifically structured to avoid the tax. For example, a transferee who would otherwise be taxable cannot hide behind a local trustee. The legislation is structured to look through Canadian trustees to beneficiaries of the trust as an anti-avoidance mechanism. If the trustee is foreign, the transaction is taxable even if the beneficiaries are not foreign.

Increased Penalties:

Fines payable as a result of offences with respect to the additional tax are the amount of unpaid tax, with interest, plus up to $200,000 for corporations and $100,000 for individuals. The maximum liability for imprisonment, two years, remains unchanged.

Strengthening consumer protection and restoring consumer confidence

The independent advisory group established by the Real Estate Council of B.C. released its report into regulation of the real estate industry on June 28, 2016. The report presented a comprehensive examination of real estate practices and raised important questions about the effectiveness of the existing regulatory framework for the industry.    

The report made 28 primary recommendations to enhance governance, oversight, transparency and accountability to consumers. The Province accepted the report’s recommendations, and is taking the additional steps of ending self-regulation of the industry and dramatically increasing the superintendent of real estate’s oversight and authority.

The following amendments are proposed to the Real Estate Services Act in response to the recommendations of the independent advisory group:

  • Increase maximum disciplinary and administrative penalties (recommendation #16).
  • Allow for commissions from licensees and brokerages engaging in misconduct to be taken back to the Real Estate Council. (recommendation #17).
  • Require all members of council to be appointed by government (expansion of recommendation #19).
  • Significantly increase the superintendent’s oversight of council (recommendation #21).
  • Allow owners to train and supervise licensees only if owners are themselves licensees (response to recommendation #23).

The amendments provide the superintendent of real estate with the exclusive rule-making powers that previously rested with the Real Estate Council.

The superintendent of real estate has been given explicit authority in the following areas, to address the recommendations of the IAG:

  • Establish a Code of Ethics (recommendation #1).
  • Prohibit licensees from offering dual agency and require licensees to provide information to unrepresented parties (recommendation #2).
  • Establish standards of conduct and business practices for licensees (response to recommendations #3, #4, #9, #11).
  • Establish conditions and restrictions on a licensee acquiring an interest in trade (recommendation #7, #8).
  • Strengthen requirements for  managing brokers to have active and direct oversight over licensees (recommendation #22).
  • Require licensees to keep records and report information to Council (recommendation #24).

The recommendations respecting authority over unlicensed activity, which remains with the superintendent of real estate, and the extension of contract assignment rules to transactions not involving licensees require further analysis by government, the superintendent and the Real Estate Council of B.C. (recommendations #6, #20).

Other recommendations do not require any additional authority and plans for their implementation are underway (recommendations #5, #10, #12, #13, #14, #15, #18, #25, #26, #27, #28).

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