British Columbia cracks down on foreign homebuyers
While the rest of the country debates privacy issues, British Columbia has boldly proclaimed that all owners of land in the province will have to publicly reveal their identities.
In a budget revealed in Victoria, finance minister Carole James announced the country’s first public register of land owners, which will require those behind numbered companies to reveal themselves.
“Lack of transparency in the land registry means it is not clear who owns nearly half of Vancouver’s more expensive properties. This is wrong,” states the provincial budget document. “The concealment of beneficial ownership can be part of international webs used to facilitate tax evasion, money laundering, corruption and other criminal activities.”
“Having a registry means we’ll know who owns what,” the budget states.
While B.C.’s announcement falls short of a public registry of all corporate owners, which is currently available in the U.K. and will soon be implemented across the EU, it is the first time those who own real estate in Canada will not be allowed to hide behind numbered companies or private family trusts.
The beneficial land ownership registry was announced as part of a package of housing reforms in B.C. that also included increases to the foreign buyers’ tax from 15 to 20 per cent and the introduction of a speculation tax on foreign and domestic homeowners who don’t pay income taxes in B.C. ■