Owners of British Columbia’s real estate will soon be listed on a publicly accessible register to improve ownership transparency, if legislation is passed.
The register will be the first of its kind in Canada and is part of the provincial government’s 30-point Plan for Housing Affordability.
“British Columbia has developed a reputation as an attractive place to anonymously invest and hide wealth. Right now in B.C., real estate investors can hide behind numbered companies, offshore and domestic trusts, and corporations,” said Carole James, Minister of Finance. “Ending this type of hidden ownership in real estate will help us fight tax evasion, tax fraud and money laundering. Our goal is to return fairness to the housing market.”
The register will help tax and law enforcement agencies, and regulators, with their investigations.
The proposed legislation would authorize collection of beneficial ownership information and is open for consultation, with British Columbians invited to share their feedback until August 19, 2018.
The proposal is part of a range of initiatives the BC government is taking to add transparency and close tax and fraud loopholes, including:
- introducing a new law to track pre-sale condominium contract assignments and prevent tax evasion.
- sharing information on the homeowner grant with federal tax officials to improve tax enforcement.
- establishing a federal-provincial working group on tax fraud and money laundering.