BC announces real estate tax evasion crackdown

New measures will come into force in September

BC announces real estate tax evasion crackdown
Steve Randall

As expected, the British Columbia government is cracking down on tax evasion in the real estate sector with new rules later this year.

Real estate was an area of concern flagged when the province’s attorney general announced an investigation into the casino trade and how changes could be made to address tax and money laundering issues.

The new rules, announced Wednesday, mean property buyers will have to disclose more information when making purchases through a corporation or trust.

It’s one of several steps to address real estate tax evasion which is also likely to mean a public register of ownership, greater sharing of information between authorities, and new laws on pre-sale condo assignments.

“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,” said Carole James, Minister of Finance. “These changes give authorities another tool to make sure people are paying the taxes they owe.”

What’s happening and when?
The new property transfer tax return will, from Sept. 17, 2018, require additional information when a property is bought through a corporation or trust.

The additional information is:

  • name
  • date of birth
  • citizenship information
  • contact details
  • tax identification numbers (such as a social insurance number)

This information requirement will apply to all property types although there will be exemptions for some organizations including charitable trusts, hospitals, schools, and libraries.