BCREA's BC Budget Highlights

Mar 01, 2019

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Posted by
Matt Mayers
Policy Analyst

Budget 2019 introduced few changes for real estate, but four new developments caught BCREA's attention:

Taxation clarity
When the budget bill receives Royal Assent clarifying changes will be made to the following statutes:

  • Property Transfer Tax Act, Taxation (Rural Area) Act and Income Tax Act around information sharing among these statutes, and
  • Speculation and Vacancy Tax Act to exempt properties uninhabitable as a result of natural disasters and to ensure that the due date for additional tax isn't earlier than the annual due date of the Speculation and Vacancy Tax for the calendar year.

Market housing affordability
Budget 2019 builds on currently-operating local government rent banks by establishing a provincial program to provide low-income renters facing evictions with short-term, low-interest loans.

Wildfire management
An additional $111 million over three years is allocated to fire management. This funding will be used to strengthen BC's efforts to combat and prevent wildfires, providing more capacity for direct wildfire control and increasing resources for communication and community engagement during wildfire season.

Energy efficiency
Under the banner of CleanBC, the budget offers $41 million over three years to make energy-saving home retrofits affordable for British Columbians (see "A Path to Energy Efficiency" for more information).

In our submission to the budget consultation last fall, BCREA once again asked for tax fairness for homebuyers and owners. Specifically, we strongly believe the Property Transfer Tax exemption for first-time homebuyers should be increased. Also, all thresholds related to the Property Transfer Tax should be indexed, so they keep pace with the market. Real estate is dynamic, and the structure of the tax should reflect that.

We had also hoped the government would announce that development properties would be exempt from the additional school tax, which takes effect this year. Such a move would help encourage builders and developers to increase housing supply and would be consistent with exemptions from the Speculation and Vacancy Tax.

Read BCREA's 2019 budget submission here.

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