Finance Minister Mike de Jong releases audited public accounts showing a larger-than-expected surplus for 2015-16.

Real estate tax windfall continues for B.C.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong says measures to deal with high housing cost coming when legislature sits next week

The B.C. government took in more income tax, sales tax and property transfer tax than it budgeted last year, leading to an operating surplus of $730 million for the fiscal year ended March 31.

The focus is on the government’s windfall from a hot real estate market, with property transfer tax revenue up $468 million over the previous year, according to audited year-end figures released by Finance Minister Mike de Jong Thursday.

The current B.C. budget had forecast a decline in property transfer tax revenue this year, but de Jong said those revenues are running significantly ahead of what was expected in February. When the B.C. legislature convenes for a rare summer sitting next week, de Jong said there will be further indications of how the government will use its extra revenues to deal with a housing market that has become unaffordable for many people in urban areas.

The government has committed to allow Vancouver to impose a new property tax on vacant homes, in an effort to make absentee owners sell them or offer them for rent. Victoria has indicated an interest in similar taxation power, but de Jong said changes to the Community Charter that governs cities outside Vancouver won’t happen this summer.

If there is a consensus among local governments at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention this fall that a vacant residence tax is needed, the province will likely allow it, de Jong said. But he repeated his view that the best answer to rising home prices and a shortage of rental accommodation is to build more of them.

“Let us not make the mistake of assuming that government is going to tax our way out of the challenge people are facing when trying to buy a house,” de Jong said.

NDP leader John Horgan said B.C.’s surplus is despite a slump in resource revenues, and instead is based on $200 million from increased Medical Services Plan premiums and a “massive increase” in property transfer taxes.

“And as we’ve seen in the past, blackjack, booze and bungalows is not a way to build a sustainable economy,” Horgan said.

For 2015-16, the number of properties sold in B.C. jumped 18.6 per cent over the previous year, and the total value of sales was up 20.9 per cent.

The finance ministry estimates the total value of real estate sold in 2015-16 was $93.67 billion, with nearly $80 billion in residential properties and the rest commercial.

B.C. finished the fiscal year with economic growth of three per cent, more than triple the national average. Population rose and retail sales increased by six per cent.

 

Just Posted

Victoria requests cruise ship visit cap while seeking limit on ship emissions

Mayor says motion is not meant to curtail current visits or limit local cruise industry expansion

Island Health warns of whooping cough at Esquimalt’s Macaulay Elementary

Island Health is urging parents to watch out for signs, and to keep immunizations updated

Council tags two more Oak Bay homes for bylaw infringement

Monterey homeowner covers front yard in gravel and stone

Pacific FC parts ways with head coach before season’s end

Club says the parting is mutual and takes effect immediately

WATCH: Women who make a difference gather for annual Black Press gala

Black Press Media’s Women in Business Gala connects local leaders

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

Campbell River homicide suspects arrested in Vancouver

Two men remain in custody, but have not been charged

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Scholars say religious vaccine objections can’t be traced to Biblical sources

Vaccinations are a requirement to attend class in Ontario and New Brunswick, while B.C. launched a demand this fall

ELECTION 2019: How would the major parties address Canada’s housing crisis?

Promises include speculation taxes, more affordable housing, and declaring housing a human right

Most Read