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 opens public input on policing standards

The move flows from recommendations of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry

Letter: U.S. tariffs on pulp industry unfair

MP slams Prime Minister for failing to secure new agreement with U.S.

Quesnel Midgets skate to a come-from-behind victory in first game of Provincials

Local goalie Jakob Drapeau stopped 48 shots for win in Tier 2 Midget championship

Business broken into on Gassoff Road

Quesnel RCMP are looking for a white single-cab Dodge Ram pickup

WATCH: Quesnel youth rehearse for The Lion King Jr.

Young singers and dancers are in their second day of rehearsals

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Proposed gun bill attacked by gun owners and shooting victims

The federal government tabled the bill today in order to tighten the sale and tracking of firearms

New anti-radicalization centre in the works for B.C.

Centre aims to help ‘vulnerable individuals of the path to radicalization’ before they turn to crime

B.C. bravery, public service honoured by Governor General Julie Payette

UVic basketball coach Kathryn Shields inducted into Order of Canada

Sea lion with rope wrapped around neck saved by Vancouver Aquarium

Steller sea lions are a species of special concern and some populations are endangered in parts of Alaska

B.C. can learn from Washington’s wine industry growth

Winery owner cites importance of industry collaboration

50-million-year-old fossil found in B.C. town makes history

Paleontologist Dr. Bruce Archibald says Princeton, B.C. is becoming famous for giving up rare fossils

Most Read