BC plans further action on real estate tax fraud

Province proposing Canada’s first ownership register

BC plans further action on real estate tax fraud
Steve Randall

The government of British Columbia says that it wants to go further in its crackdown on those who use real estate to avoid paying their dues.

It has announced proposed legislation to authorize the collection of beneficial ownership information during real estate transactions; and to establish a publicly-accessible register of ownership.

The register would be the first of its kind in Canada and would enable law enforcement and tax authorities to access information as part of their investigations.

“British Columbia has developed a reputation as an attractive place to anonymously invest and hide wealth. Right now in B.C., real estate investors can hide behind numbered companies, offshore and domestic trusts, and corporations,” said Carole James, Minister of Finance. “Ending this type of hidden ownership in real estate will help us fight tax evasion, tax fraud and money laundering. Our goal is to return fairness to the housing market.”

The drive to improve transparency in the province’s real estate is a 30-point plan which includes introducing a new law to track pre-sale condominium contract assignments and prevent tax evasion; sharing information on the homeowner grant with federal tax officials to improve tax enforcement; and establishing a federal-provincial working group on tax fraud and money laundering.

A consultation period on the proposed land transparency law and ownership register runs until August 19, 2018.