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

Celebrating Family Day in Grand Forks

The activities on Market offered plenty for the whole family to do.

Grand Forks council flip-flops on BC Housing proposal

The low-income housing project on 19th was recalled for a second vote.

Rescued snowmobilers ill-prepared for emergency, Castlegar RCMP say

Two men rescued Wednesday night were not ready for overnight in back country

B.C. Interior free from measles

Vancouver measles outbreak hasn’t spread to the B.C. Interior

Fashion Fridays: Must have wardrobe basics

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Cryptocurrency exchange CEO who suddenly died leaves Kelowna house in will

Gerald Cotten, holding the keys to money tied up in his virtual currency exchange, died in December.

Regulator’s report, coming today, unlikely to settle Trans Mountain pipeline battle

The Trans Mountain pipeline will remain a controversial topic both in the political ring and out

Australian woman killed in avalanche at Whistler

The woman and her partner were reportedly rescued by ski patrol, but she did not survive

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

Trudeau tells Canadians to listen to clerk in SNC-Lavalin matter

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick delivered a blunt assessment at the House of Commons justice

Mueller report looming, new attorney general in hot seat

Robert Mueller is required to produce a confidential report to pursue or decline prosecutions

B.C. woman shares story of abuse with church officials ahead of Vatican summit

Leona Huggins was the only Canadian in the gathering ahead of a historic summit at the Vatican

Most Read