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

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

LNG Canada sponsors fast-tracked driver’s license training in Terrace, Kitimat

The $80,000 contribution is part of the company’s commitment to hire locally

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

Coastal GasLink stops work to investigate archaeological find

OGC archaeologists are en route to the Houston-area site where Unist’ot’en report finding stone tools

All Native Basketball Tournament Day 5: Recap

Highlights and results from day 5 at the All Native Tournament

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

B.C. communities push back against climate change damages campaign

Activists copying California case that was tossed out of court

Most Read