WIN: B.C. expands Foreign Buyers Tax
The B.C. government has strengthened the Foreign Buyers Tax by raising it from 15 to 20 per cent, and by expanding it to Greater Victoria, the Fraser Valley, the Central Okanagan, and the Nanaimo area — something we've been calling for since early 2017! This is a solid win!
Increasing the tax should help stem a rebound in inflationary, non-resident demand for housing in Metro Vancouver, and expanding it to Greater Victoria and other areas should help cool those markets, too. 
A big thanks to everyone who joined us in petitioning, presenting to local councils, and diving into the data to help make the case for this expansion.
While there’s plenty of work left to do on our journey to restore housing affordability forever, this is good progress!
The fine print
- The 'Additional Property Transfer Tax for Foreign Entities & Taxable Trustees' amount is 20 per cent of the fair market value of homes in:
- Capital Regional District
- Fraser Valley Regional District
- Greater Vancouver Regional District
- Regional District of Central Okanagan
- Regional District of Nanaimo
- The expanded tax is expected to bring in an extra $40 million a year
- The B.C. government says increasing the tax will help deter those speculating in B.C.'s housing market, and penalize those who do
Will this actually reduce the cost of housing?
It’s too early to say how significant the impact on overall housing affordability will be. But it's fair to say foreign capital represents ‘gasoline on the fire’ of housing costs that over a generation have risen far more than incomes in many areas, squeezing younger Canadians particularly hard (though people of ALL ages are affected).
If the government is rigorous about finding and closing loopholes, it’ll likely have a cooling effect on the market by reducing foreign demand (the government’s stated goal for the tax).
However, average home prices in the Lower Mainland (and increasingly elsewhere) have already risen out of reach for many renters and prospective homeowners, so much more needs to be done to address the affordability crisis.
We believe good policy flows from good first principles. That’s why we're pushing for our politicians to support the policy principle of Homes First, which imagines our housing markets being regulated with the stated primary purpose of providing affording, suitable homes for community members to live in (vs. using local housing as speculative investment vehicles, foreign or domestic).
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 Provincial data was showing significant rates of "foreign involved transactions" in the Capital Region and other areas outside of Metro Vancouver, though there were differences in what people considered to be a "significant rate," a question we explored in our Nov 2017 "Wall of Money" event.