B.C. Premier Christy Clark is talking about reducing or eliminating the Property Transfer Tax

B.C. Premier Christy Clark is talking about reducing or eliminating the Property Transfer Tax

Premier floats end to B.C.’s tax on home sales

Property Transfer Tax skims a billion dollars a year from real estate transactions but it won't die anytime soon

Premier Christy Clark says she wants to eliminate B.C.’s Property Transfer Tax over the long term but the province can’t yet afford to forgo the billion dollars a year it generates.

The premier was asked about the provincial tax on real estate transactions at an appearance Wednesday before the Surrey Board of Trade.

“When we really start making a dent on our debt we really want to start knocking down the Property Transfer Tax, because it’s a drag on our economy,” Clark told the business audience. “We’re not quite in a position to be able to do that yet but It is absolutely part of our long-term plan to get rid of it.”

The PTT consists of one per cent charged on the first $200,000 of a property’s value and two per cent after that. For a $600,000 house, it means $10,000 is due every time it changes hands.

The province collected $1.04 billion in PTT in the 2014 fiscal year but projects that will drop to $928 million this year due to an expected decrease in property sales.

Questioned later, Clark declined to give a timeline for the idea and downplayed the comments.

“I wouldn’t characterize it as a promise,” she said. “It’s something that we’d like to do.  A promise is something we believe we can do. We don’t know that we can do it yet. It’s a billion dollars in revenue for government.”

Clark said she would like to at least cut the tax to improve home affordability, but said the money would have to be made up elsewhere.

The PTT raises significantly more than the government gets from either forestry ($757 million), natural gas royalties ($542 million) or tobacco taxes ($770 million.)

It’s not the first time Clark has dangled populist suggestions of tax or fee relief far down the road. During the 2013 election campaign, she said Port Mann Bridge tolls could be eliminated ahead of schedule once a windfall from LNG begins to arrive.

Realtors during that campaign urged the province to at least increase the threshold at which the two per cent portion of the PTT kicks in to reduce the amount of tax charged on average to higher end homes in Metro Vancouver.

Rising property values have made many more homes subject to the two per cent portion because the $200,000 threshold has never been increased since the PTT was created 28 years ago. There are some exemptions for family transfers and first-time home buyers.

The government’s PTT take has fluctuated with the pace of real estate sales, but has more than tripled from $302 million in 2001.

The province rejected a suggestion from TransLink in 2010 that it help fund transit by sharing revenue from the PTT, half of which comes from the Lower Mainland.

The PTT has also been controversial because businesses and wealthy individuals can avoid paying the tax by holding real estate within a bare trust corporation and selling that shell company to the new buyer.

Clark highlighted B.C.’s “hat trick” of three straight surpluses in her Surrey speech one day after the release of the provincial budget.

Continuing the hockey analogy, she said it’s critical to play both strong defence in the form of debt control and offence in pursuing opportunities to grow the economy.

Clark noted B.C.’s debt-to-GDP ratio – a key measure of the ability to service debt – is now 17.7 per cent and falling, compared to a national average of 31.5 per cent, nearly 40 per cent in Ontario and nearly 55 per cent in Quebec.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Willow, a kitten belonging to a Victoria family, was rescued by firefighters on Thursday after she got stuck in a basement drain pipe. (City of Victoria/Twitter)
Victoria kitten stuck in basement drain pipe rescued by firefighters

Willow the cat on the mend, owner feeling ‘enormous gratitude’

(Black Press Media file photo)
Blue-green algae bloom confirmed in Elk Lake, water-based activities not recommended

Blue-green algae can be lethal to dogs, cause health issues for humans

Victoria police arrested a man Jan. 15 after he rammed his minivan into an occupied police vehicle. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria man arrested for ramming minivan into occupied police vehicle

Man caught after fleeing, crashing into cement retaining wall

Mayor Rob Martin and Costa Canna president Phil Floucault cut the ribbon on Colwood’s first cannabis retail store. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Cowichan Tribes’ Costa Canna cannabis store opens in Colwood

Cowichan Tribes has one-year deal to grow, sell cannabis

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Most Read