Taxes Affecting Real Estate In 2019

The NDP changed or legislated the following taxes on developers and landowners

  • Property Transfer Tax
  • School Tax
  • Speculation Tax

There are annual municipal property taxes and for Vancouver, the Empty Homes tax.

Property Transfer Tax

Tax is levied on purchase or sale. For example, on a $5,000,000 property the calculations are as follows:

  • 1% on first $200,000                                         $    2,000
  • 2% on next $1,800,000                                      $  36,000
  • 3% on next $1,000,000                                      $  30,000
  • 5% on amount above $3,000,000                        $100,000

$50,000 on each additional $1,000,000 over $5,000,000.

This is payable upon REGISTRATION on the market value at the date of registration, not the date of agreement. BC Ministry of Finance (BC Min) generally use the assessed value, but this can be challenged.

If any percentage of ownership is foreign, the property is subject to the foreign buyers tax of 15%.

School Tax Surcharge for Residential

In addition to the regular school tax, for each $1M (the current school tax is approximately $1,000 in Metro Vancouver), a further tax is levied on most residential properties. Properties with (01) class will be charged the excess tax. This is based upon the “assessed value,” not “taxable value.” This includes properties with mixed classification but relates to the 01 portion only.

Excluded, but not limited to, are:

  • Rental properties of four or more units.
  • Development land currently under construction.
  • Homes under $3M in assessed value.

In 2019, for a $5,000,000 property, surcharges are as follows:


Mill rate


Up to $3,000,000



$3,000,000 - $4,000,000



$4,000,000 and up






Therefore, the total tax in the above example would be $6,000 + $1,000 x 5 = $11,000.
For each additional $1,000,000 over $4,000,000, the surcharge tax will be $4,000 plus the regular amount due ($1,000) for $5,000 total.

Speculation Tax

The speculation tax is a tax on empty residential properties in certain metropolitan areas. These are:

  • Metro Vancouver (excluding Bowen Island and Electoral Area A, except the part of the
  • Electoral area that is the UBC and University Endowment Lands)
  • Capital Region District (excluding the Gulf Islands and Juan de Fuca)
  • Kelowna-West Kelowna
  • Nanaimo-Lantzville (excluding Protection Island)
  • Abbotsford
  • Chilliwack
  • Mission

It applies to all residential properties with BC Assessment classification of class (01) that are not rented, vacant, or empty unless EXEMPTED (vacant sites were exempt in 2019). It would therefore apply to:

  • Condos
  • Houses
  • Vacant lots
  • Part of a mixed-use building
  • Parcel with mixed classification

The rates vary. For each $1M of value:


Tax Rate


Canadian Citizens/Corporations



Foreign Investors



Exclusions are:

  • Land under development. Provided there is some continuous activity taking place, the land should be exempted.
  • Condo inventory offered for sale.
  • Future phases of existing developments.
  • First year of purchase.

Declaration forms must be completed for each legal parcel by March 31st 2020.

Vancouver Empty Homes Tax

Only the City of Vancouver imposed a tax on any residentially classified property (01) not occupied or rented for 30-day periods for any six months in a year. The fee is 10.00 extra points on the tax rate, which is higher than the (06) rate and results in $10,000 per $ million of value.

  • Strata with rental restrictions.
  • Property with mixed classification.
  • Totally vacant sites.
  • Sites where the development process has begun.
  • Developer inventory, where an occupancy permit has been issued after 180 days.
  • A site transferred in the year of taxation.

Please note that if a developer has occupancy in January to June, unsold units will be taxed in 2020.
Exclusions for individuals can be found on the City web site.
The above is a summary of the various government websites. Before taking or not taking any action, a review of relevant Acts and Bylaws should be undertaken.
Peter Austin would be happy to meet with anyone who would like further elaboration or wish to learn how to mitigate the effects of the taxes.