B.C. Finance Minister Carole James presents her first budget, February 2017. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press/pool)

James continues to defend housing speculation tax

Removed from vacation homes, it still targets mostly B.C. homeowners

Finance Minister Carole James continues to defend the remaining properties targeted by her government’s speculation tax on vacant homes, after revealing that the majority that will pay the tax are B.C. residents.

Introduced in the February budget as an extension of the empty home tax imposed by the City of Vancouver to target mainly foreign real estate investors, the area affected by the tax was whittled down to major urban centres after an outcry from people with vacation homes.

RELATED: Rural cottages exempted from speculation tax

It now captures about 32,000 properties, 20,000 of which are owned by B.C. residents, James confirmed in debate on her ministry’s budget this week. This prompted a renewed attack by opposition MLAs, who say it still isn’t a speculation tax but rather an asset tax on people with second homes.

James stressed that 99 per cent of B.C. residents won’t pay the tax, and it is needed to promote rentals.

“One per cent who have second or third or fourth homes that they own in the regions that we’ve targeted will pay the speculation tax, if they choose not to rent their place out,” James said Thursday. “We’re in a housing crisis.”

James rolled back the extent of the tax in March after protests from vacation homeowners, exempting the Gulf Islands, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, the Juan de Fuca region in Premier John Horgan’s constituency and rural areas of the Fraser Valley and Central Okanagan.

It currently applies to Metro Vancouver, Greater Victoria and the municipalities of Nanaimo, Lantzville, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, Kelowna and West Kelowna. It is to take effect based on 2018 assessed property values, at 0.5 per cent for B.C. residents and two per cent for foreign owners and “satellite families” who don’t pay income tax in B.C.

Albertans and other Canadians whose principal residence is outside B.C. will pay 0.5 per cent in 2018 and one per cent in 2019 and later.

Just Posted

Cowichan swimmers bring home hardware from Special Olympics Canada Summer Games

Mikyla Carlow and Courtenay Rekis win multiple medals in Nova Scotia

CVAC Jaguars grab gold medals at junior development provincials

Alexa Dow and Annette Blumel combine for three first-place finishes

Pickleballers pack Lake Cowichan for successful Island championships

Well-received event shows off Lake Cowichan’s courts

Sangha chooses jury trial in Duncan confinement case

Alleged to have held and beaten woman over three days in a Cowichan Valley home

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

About 1,000 Saudi residents called back to kingdom after suspending diplomatic relations with Canada

Bernier diatribe against ‘extreme multiculturalism’ boosts Liberal coffers

Party spokesperson Braeden Caley says online donations doubled, social media engagement quadrupled

‘Disjointed’ system hinders British Columbia First Nations in wildfire fight

More than 550 wildfires were burning in B.C. and crews were bracing for wind and dry lightning

Castlegar bridge designed by architect of collapsed Italian bridge

Riccardo Morandi designed the Kinnaird Bridge, which is part of Highway 3.

Federal government announces over $115 million to Royal Canadian Navy

Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan was at Victoria’s CFB Esquimalt to announce missile system upgrades

RCMP nab prolific car thief after month-long, B.C.-wide search

A province-wide warrant was issued for Brian Robert Stephan in June for a litany of offences

Court sides with developer in Jumbo ‘substantially started’ dispute

Resort developer successfully argues 2014 decision that halted the project was unfair

Canada’s tax system unfairly favours wealthy, poll of CRA auditors suggests

Four of every five respondents think loopholes and tax credits built into the system benefit the rich

Most Read