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Why B.C.’s new real estate speculation tax is not a speculation tax

Those of us who keep a close eye on the B.C. real estate industry and housing policy were widely anticipating a speculation tax to be introduced in last week’s B.C. Budget, as it had been heavily hinted at by the NDP in advance of the announcement.

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I was among many who supposed this would take the form of a tax applied upon the sale of a property – say, if a home is flipped by a non-resident within a certain limited time period. For example, a non-resident (for tax purposes) owner who sells a Vancouver home within a year of buying it would have to pay an additional levy on that sale – a levy that would decline on a sliding scale the longer the home is owned. Such a tax would target actual speculators looking for nothing more than a quick flip, who capitalize on the uplift in value in a rising market within a relatively short time frame. That’s what speculation is, after all.

Imagine my surprise, then, when the “speculation tax” introduced in the 2018 Budget was not, in fact, a speculation tax at all.

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