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British Columbia real-estate and foreign buyer taxes


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#61 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 07:05 AM

Not that I want to share but it's relevant to the topic. We have a condo at Mt Washington that we purchased 12+ years ago that we hardly use anymore ( kids have grown up etc) we put it in the rental pool for 2-3 years and pulled it out as the wear and tear repairs exceeded the revenue collected. So now it's empty perhaps 11 3/4 months out of 12 while we consider selling or keeping for the next generation. I know it's not in the City but it could have a similar impact if the mountain has a great season and accommodation is limited yet there are condos like ours sitting empty..... Should we be forced to rent it or sell it because we aren't contributing to the economy of the mountain? (Btw the land title rules have changed and it's a freehold)

 

I think this is very relevant to the next VV winter retreat.


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#62 rjag

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 07:13 AM

Manuel, I feel it merits a response that includes political commentary. Of course there will be bias, its in our nature.

 

Certain Municipal and provincial politicians have contributed to a culture of fear and xenophobia in this situation with their solution being regulation and taxation, these folks for the most part are on the left of centre..... Of course its going to invite comments from all over the spectrum....

 

Its pretty typical that when government identifies a problem there is a clamor by certain groups for government to solve it by regulation. Some folks cant have enough government in their lives. The issue though is that by its very nature the more regulation created, the more regulation needed to manage the unintended consequences.


Edited by rjag, 14 July 2016 - 07:14 AM.


#63 Mike K.

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 07:27 AM

Why is everyone getting all worked up on proposed changes - let alone real changes -b that they haven't even seen yet? The attacks on political figures that one doesn't like while other politicians involved get a free pass is showing bias - and continuing a pattern on VV that if a VV reader isn't politically conservative they don't feel welcome. Basically the Sid Teller up in arms over something unseen and likely innocuous reaction is occurring, but with the group criticizing Sid doing the same thing over a change that might, but likely won't affect them.

I (and probably a lot of others) happen to agree with a lot said on development on this forum, but don't like the politics.

 

If the mayors of Vancouver and Victoria are supportive of this tax, who are we supposed to criticize if not them? They're the heads of their respective organizations and we hold them responsible, not other politicians.

 

The province is only doing what the Mayor of Vancouver wants it to do. They'd likely prefer to avoid this, but they also can't help but see how this plays out to the (virtually guaranteed) detriment of Robertson and potentially Helps.


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#64 Coreyburger

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 08:11 AM

The province is only doing what the Mayor of Vancouver wants it to do. They'd likely prefer to avoid this, but they also can't help but see how this plays out to the (virtually guaranteed) detriment of Robertson and potentially Helps.

 

And Robertson said he would do it without provincial help, implying that the Vancouver Charter already gives the city permission to do it. I have no idea if that is true or not, but if he did followup with that threat it could be a major issue for the province.

 

As for the previous comment about Parksville et al not doing it misses the point: Victoria (or any other non-Vancouver muni) CANNOT implement this tax right now. The current enabling legislation for local governments (Community Charter & Local Government Act) specifies what kinds of taxes they can implement. This isn't one of them.



#65 Mike K.

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 08:26 AM

Interesting. Thanks.

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#66 Bernard

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 03:10 PM

You would rely on submitted complaints, just like lack of building permits (the guy building more suites onto his home next door) and almost everything else is handled now.

 

 Nobody investigates the 300,000 households, just the 500 complaint submissions each week.

which means that the tax will collected on almost no properties and raise no money



#67 LJ

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 07:46 PM

And Robertson said he would do it without provincial help, implying that the Vancouver Charter already gives the city permission to do it. I have no idea if that is true or not, but if he did followup with that threat it could be a major issue for the province.

 

As for the previous comment about Parksville et al not doing it misses the point: Victoria (or any other non-Vancouver muni) CANNOT implement this tax right now. The current enabling legislation for local governments (Community Charter & Local Government Act) specifies what kinds of taxes they can implement. This isn't one of them.

The Vancouver charter needs to be amended to allow them to collect a tax on vacant properties, it does not allow them to do that now.

It has been stated before that the Community charter would have to be amended before any other muni could also proceed down this path, but it is something that the province has said they will do.

I would not for a minute expect Parksville or any other small muni to try to collect a vacancy tax, they would be kicked out of office so fast they wouldn't know what hit them.


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#68 LJ

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 07:48 PM

As with any regulations, they have the best intentions but are usually flawed. Someone will create a randomizer software designed to impersonate a person at a residence by consuming enough hydro to exclude them from the red flag.

all Comrade Gregor and his ilk will do is create a new arms race in ways to fool the snoops

Not that I want to share but it's relevant to the topic. We have a condo at Mt Washington that we purchased 12+ years ago that we hardly use anymore ( kids have grown up etc) we put it in the rental pool for 2-3 years and pulled it out as the wear and tear repairs exceeded the revenue collected. So now it's empty perhaps 11 3/4 months out of 12 while we consider selling or keeping for the next generation. I know it's not in the City but it could have a similar impact if the mountain has a great season and accommodation is limited yet there are condos like ours sitting empty..... Should we be forced to rent it or sell it because we aren't contributing to the economy of the mountain? (Btw the land title rules have changed and it's a freehold)

Well I wouldn't advise trying to sell right now, prices are quite depressed and hardly anything is selling. We sold but it certainly wasn't at the price we wanted, but we never used the place at all in the last few years and it was costing us money.


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#69 manuel

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 09:18 PM

If the mayors of Vancouver and Victoria are supportive of this tax, who are we supposed to criticize if not them? They're the heads of their respective organizations and we hold them responsible, not other politicians.
 
The province is only doing what the Mayor of Vancouver wants it to do. They'd likely prefer to avoid this, but they also can't help but see how this plays out to the (virtually guaranteed) detriment of Robertson and potentially Helps.


Except that the changes are being done with full support of the provincial government which happens to be conservative. Without this support nothing would happen. To me, this is politics in itself. Polling must show that key constituencies in Vancouver are getting really passed off by not being able to afford a hole in the ground, let alone a house, and the liberal party - who tend to be heavily supported by developers - saw that they were exposed and acted - perhaps reflexively and irrationally (time will tell and without the raw data on the situation on the ground I couldn't tell now anyways so I'd just be blowing smoke).

If we are going to blame Gregor and Lisa, make sure to add Christy and Rich as well. No clue where the NDP stand on this.
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#70 johnk

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 10:21 AM

How are they going to enforce such a scheme?
Snitch lines?
Squads of inspectors all drawing salaries and generous benefits?
Not to mention layers of supervisory types.
Isn't it all just a tad late? As if taxing speculators is magically going to make Vancouver affordable to younger families. I see politicians scrambling for fig leaves before the next elections.

#71 spanky123

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 11:53 AM

Passing a vacancy tax will have no impact other then perhaps generating a few extra dollars for the City which they then have to offset with costs. This is all about politicians trying to make it look like they are doing something. My guess is that deep down inside they don't give a sh%t and are quite happy to take advantage of the rising prices of their own properties.  


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#72 nerka

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 01:55 PM

This is all about politicians trying to make it look like they are doing something.

Most are agreed that the vacancy tax will be ineffective. However more effective solutions would be available if the provincial government was onside but the provincial government (a) does not want to piss off developer friends, (b) has repeatedly said that they don't want to affect homeowner's equity. The latter point presumably means they support currently high prices in perpetuity.

 

If the provincial government was onside there could be a hefty surtax (enhanced PTT) on foreign purchases, there could be a higher annual property tax for non-resident owners. Non-resident owners could be assessed income tax on imputed rental income (whether they rent it or not) - might need the feds for that one. All of these could be more effective and or easier to administer than a vacancy tax



#73 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 02:13 PM

How about the province steps in and simply says that if your rental vacancy rate falls below 2% in your municipality, you are required to fix it (by relaxing zoning rules, or regulations, or offering up land etc.) within two years, or face consequences (forced rezoning etc.).

 

Developers are happy, they get to keep building.


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#74 spanky123

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 02:31 PM

The problem is that we have lots of anecdotal evidence and not a lot of real evidence of who owns what percentage of what and how many properties are actually vacant or being used only as short term rentals.

 

Good data should be the first step.



#75 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 03:59 PM

I thought the BC Hydro data was fairly decent (?)
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#76 LJ

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 08:01 PM

One developer said they could reduce the costs of apartments/condos in Vancouver by 15-25% if the city would allow them to build bedrooms without windows, as is allowed in most other muni's.

 

The NDP is saying that there are a lot of multi-million dollar homes owned by people claiming low income on their tax returns, thereby paying no BC income tax.

They want the provincial government to allow a tax equal to the provincial tax to be assessed on these homes.

 

The implication is that these are all foreign owners who have mega-bucks and aren't paying any taxes. Of course they miss the fact that granny has lived in her home for 40 years and does indeed have a low income and can't afford the tax. Basically it is just the NDP saying tax the rich and give us the money.


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#77 manuel

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 09:24 PM

One developer said they could reduce the costs of apartments/condos in Vancouver by 15-25% if the city would allow them to build bedrooms without windows, as is allowed in most other muni's.


Are you sure about this? I though that it was basic fire code, which is mostly national, that all bedrooms must have egress windows. Perhaps I am thinking of houses, or perhaps the other municipalities you note are in the states or overseas?
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#78 Nparker

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Posted 15 July 2016 - 10:18 PM

...I though that it was basic fire code, which is mostly national, that all bedrooms must have egress windows...

The National Building Code of Canada (NBCC), on which the Provincial Codes are based, has very clear requirements as it relates to bedroom windows and how the bedroom window serves three distinct purposes in the home:

  • Light (at least five per cent of the floor area served)
  • Ventilation (at least 0.28m² or 3 ft² or an adequate year-round mechanical ventilation)
  • Emergency Escape: An Emergency Escape requires that each bedroom must have a door that leads directly to the exterior of the building or have a properly-sized egress window that can be opened from the inside without the use of keys, tools, hardware or special knowledge (unless this bedroom has a sprinkler system installed).

Building Code article 9.7.1.2. establishes the general requirement that all bedrooms must have at least one window that is large enough to be used as an exit in an emergency. The specific requirements are as follows:

- Except where the suite has a sprinkler, each bedroom or combination bedroom shall have at least one outside window or exterior door operable from the inside without the use of key, tools or special knowledge and without the removal of sashes or hardware.
- The window referred to in Sentence (1) shall provide and unobstructed opening of not less than 0.35 m² (542 in² or 3.8 ft²) in area with no dimension less than 380 mm (15 inches), and maintain the required opening during an emergency without the need for additional support.
- If the window referred to in Sentence (1) is provided with security bars, the security bars shall be operable from the inside without the use of any tools or special knowledge.
- If a window well is required, it must be out from the window at least 550mm (about 22") to provide safe passage. Awning style windows for example opening into a window well typically won't work because they tend to obstruct clear passage unless the window well is unusually large.

- It is further recommended that the bottom of any egress window opening or sill not be higher than 1.5m (5 feet) above the floor. Now this can be somewhat challenging for any bedroom in a basement, so some means of built-in furniture below the window to assist in the event of an emergency is required.

The International Residential Code (IRC), which is used in the United States, is different still. The IRC states that at least one window in each bedroom must be of sufficient size to permit the occupants to escape a fire, AND also to allow a fully outfitted fire-fighter to enter. The window size is also required to be larger than the Canadian requirements. An egress window must satisfy all four International Residential Code (IRC) criteria:

  • Minimum width of opening: 20 in.
  • Minimum height of opening: 24 in.
  • Minimum net clear opening: 5.7 sq. ft. (5.0 sq. ft. for ground floor).
  • Maximum sill height above floor: 44 in.


#79 rjag

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 07:17 AM


The NDP is saying that there are a lot of multi-million dollar homes owned by people claiming low income on their tax returns, thereby paying no BC income tax.
They want the provincial government to allow a tax equal to the provincial tax to be assessed on these homes.

The implication is that these are all foreign owners who have mega-bucks and aren't paying any taxes. Of course they miss the fact that granny has lived in her home for 40 years and does indeed have a low income and can't afford the tax. Basically it is just the NDP saying tax the rich and give us the money.


It's a witch hunt. Sure there are issues in the multimillion dollar properties that are questionable but how does that apply to the $500k condo? Or a retired person? I would ask how a 19 year old kid can be driving a $100k+ car with an N in the same breath yet the subject hasn't come up.

#80 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 07:30 AM

I would ask how a 19 year old kid can be driving a $100k+ car with an N in the same breath yet the subject hasn't come up.

 

We do have a luxury car tax.


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