A vacation getaway in the West Kootenay. Eastern and coastal B.C. are popular retreats for Albertans. (Black Press files)

B.C. speculation tax applies to out-of-province homeowners

Albertans with Okanagan, Island properties hit, Kootenays could come later

With a trade battle between B.C. and Alberta heating up, Albertans with B.C. vacation properties will soon find out if they are in for a hefty property tax increase.

Finance Minister Carole James unveiled B.C.’s new “speculation tax” in this week’s budget, the first in Canada. It targets vacant homes in an effort to discourage foreign investors from pushing up urban real estate prices by parking money in a hot market.

James confirmed that the speculation tax will apply to vacation homes owned by Canadians from other provinces. Like the foreign buyers tax, which B.C. is increasing from 15 to 20 per cent, the speculation tax is extended beyond Metro Vancouver to the Fraser Valley, Nanaimo, Central Okanagan and Capital Regional Districts.

That includes Kelowna, West Kelowna, Greater Victoria, Parksville, Qualicum Beach and other communities popular with Albertans as holiday and retirement homes.

James said Thursday the speculation tax may be extended to other areas later. Kootenay communities have long struggled with high housing prices and a shortage of rentals as Albertans have bought up mountain properties for summer and ski season getaways a short drive from Calgary.

RELATED: Revelstoke’s rental crunch

RELATED: Parksville aims for rental relief

The speculation tax requires legislation to be passed this spring. It is to begin at 0.5 per cent of property value, rising to two per cent later in the year as promised by the NDP in their election campaign.

“If you pay income tax in British Columbia you are not captured,” James said. “If you’re from outside the province, and you leave your home vacant, you will be taxed.”

The finance ministry has not yet defined “vacant” as it applies to a holiday getaway that may be used a few times each year by an out-of-province owner. Finance officials say to avoid the tax, owners will have to have a “long-term rental” rather than short-term deals through such services as AirBnB.

But James said the tax is designed to persuade people to offer their second residence for rent when they’re not using it.

“If you want to ensure that you don’t pay the tax, you put your house on the rental market and you encourage people to rent it,” James told reporters after a post-budget speech to business owners in Victoria.

The speculation tax will be administered outside the existing property tax system. Notices are to be mailed out to direct out-of-province property owners to a finance ministry website that will detail the various exemptions. Paper and phone options will also be offered.

Just Posted

Cafe Guido manager spills the beans on new coffee shop drive-thru

“The core drink menu is the same, but there will be new drinks - new cold drinks and new food”

Arrest made in Port Alice mail bomb incident

A 73 year old resident of Whitehorse, Yukon, was arrested on September 13th and remains in custody.

Municipal spending outpaces population growth 4-fold in B.C.: report

Canadian Federation of Independent Business has released its annual operational spending report

Three mayoral races in the North Island

Elections BC has finalized their nomination list for municipal, local elections for… Continue reading

Port Hardy resident furious over smart meter installation

“They came into my house without consent and it wasn’t even a BC Hydro employee.”

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

B.C. woman facing animal cruelty charges after emaciated dog seized

Kira, a Rottweiler, had kidney and bladder infections

Kim agrees to dismantle main nuke site if US takes steps too

Kim promised to accept international inspectors to monitor the closing of a key missile test site and launch pad and to visit Seoul soon.

Dozens speak at Vancouver hearing that could see duplexes replace single homes

The city clerk says 73 people signed up to speak at the hearing that began early Tuesday evening and adjourned hours later with 34 speakers still waiting.

North Carolina gov pleads with storm evacuees to be patient

The death toll rose to at least 37 in three states Tuesday, with 27 fatalities in North Carolina.

North and South Korea say they plan to bid for 2032 Olympics

Moon and Kim announced a sweeping set of agreements including a vow to work together to host the Summer Olympics in 2032.

Russia’s reinstatement after doping scandal goes to a vote

The World Anti-Doping Agency is due to vote Thursday Sept. 20, 2018, on possible reinstatement of Russia.

Ontario wins stay on ruling that struck down council-cutting plan

The province had argued the stay was necessary to eliminate uncertainty surrounding the Oct. 22 vote, and the Court of Appeal agreed.

B.C. cannabis producer Tilray hits at $20-billion high as stock price explodes

This is the first export of a cannabis product from a Canadian company to the U.S.

Most Read