B.C. government closes in on real estate tax evaders

New property transfer tax form for buyers using corporation or trust will ask more probing questions

The B.C. government is closing in on real estate tax evasion by requiring much more comprehensive information from anyone buying residential or commercial property through a company or trust, the Ministry of Finance announced July 25.

As of September 17, 2018, a new property transfer tax (PTT) return will ask those purchasing a property through a corporation or trust to disclose the same full slate of personal information that home buyers disclose on the regular PTT return.

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This includes the individual buyer’s name, date of birth, citizenship information, contact details and tax identification numbers (such as a social insurance number)

Finance minister Carole James said in the announcement, “Our government has been clear that the days of skirting tax laws and hiding property ownership behind numbered companies and trusts are over. Not only is tax evasion in real estate fundamentally unfair, but it’s driving up the cost of housing for people who live and work in our communities. These changes give authorities another tool to make sure people are paying the taxes they owe.”

The province said in a media release, “There will be exemptions for certain trusts, such as charitable trusts, and certain corporations, such as hospitals, schools and libraries.”

The move is part of the B.C. NDP government’s 30-point plan for housing, which also includes the annual speculation tax and the school tax on $3 million-plus homes.

Under the plan, the province also recently announced that it would set up a property ownership registry to bring “hidden owners” of B.C. real estate into the light. It also intends to track presale condo assignments to prevent tax evasion by buyers flipping a presale condo, and establish a working group on tax fraud and money laundering in B.C. real estate.

More information on the new PTT reporting requirements can be found here.

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