Tax hurts Okanagan

On Feb. 20, the B.C. government unveiled its 2018 budget and an accompanying housing plan that included the controversial speculation tax. 

In March, this proposal was modified due to significant outcry. 

The tax is designed to calm high home pries and rents in urban centres that are beyond local incomes. The government states that speculation has contributed to huge price increases and making it difficult for British Columbians to find a home they can afford. 

By pushing these “speculators” out of the housing market, this will turn vacant properties or short-term vacation rentals back into the housing market for people who live and work in B.C. to buy or rent at a more reasonable amount. 

While the government wants to address housing affordability, is this tax one that will accomplish this goal?  Or will it do the opposite by killing jobs, hurting Okanagan tourism (and real estate) and make the housing affordability issue worse?

Is this tax going after the real speculators, or is it only targeting hardworking taxpayers and those from our neighbouring provinces who visit B.C. and specifically the Okanagan to vacation, bringing their paycheque to share with businesses that depend on those seasonal tourism dollars to survive?

The government states that

“the tax is designed to capture foreign and domestic speculators, satellite families who live in B.C. but do not pay their share of income taxes, as well as homeowners who hold vacant property in designated urban centres. Over 99 per cent of British Columbians are estimated to be exempt, because they will not have a vacant second home in the affected areas.” 

In the Okanagan, we rely on these so-called “speculators” (we have a different name for them; we call them “tourists," “patrons,"  “clients," and in, some cases, “friends” and “family”) to fuel our economy. 

They visit our communities, buy our groceries, drink our coffee, rent our boats, houses and condos, eat in our restaurants and even drink our more expensive alcohol and buy our inflated fuel. 

No, they do not contribute to our British Columbia income tax base, but for the most part, these Okanagan “speculators” do pay Canadian income taxes to support federally funded programs that all Canadians benefit from.

Without these “spectulators,” our communities and the many tourism-oriented businesses suffer or cease to exist.  

We can argue that areas such as Vernon, Penticton and the Shuswap are not affected by this tax, but don’t kid yourself. This will affect any tourist town in B.C. because Albertans are furious. 

They were angry and annoyed with British Columbians about the lack of cooperation over the Kinder Morgan pipeline, and now they are livid about this new tax.

We have spoken to many Albertans and most, if not all, are upset. They would rather pull their money from our communities – regardless of location – than support our provincial government for one more day. 

If you are against this speculation tax, like I am, there is a way to fight it. Leading the charge in the effort to fight this tax is The Coalition. 

This coalition recommends that the B.C. government immediately scrap the Speculation Tax and do the following to address housing affordability:

  • Target real speculators, not long-term homeowners, including many out-of-province residents;
  • Protect our local tourism dependant economies, like Kelowna and the South Island;
  • Reduce the cost of delivering housing units by exempting vacant development land from this tax; 
  • Exempt Canadian and British Columbian taxpayers from this unfair tax measures.

If you’re also concerned, please visit their website, and join the fight. 

More Just Add Salt! articles

About the Author

Lisa Salt is a Vernon born Realtor® who, along with her husband Gord Fowler from Calgary, lead one of the most successful and dynamic real estate teams in the North Okanagan. 

An international clay target shooting champion, Lisa brought the attributes of hard work and diligent focus to the real estate industry to create the success she and her team have today. 

To experience the local knowledge and expertise that only someone born and raised in the Okanagan can offer, call Lisa today and 'Just Add Salt'.

Website link:   http://www.saltfowler.com

Contact e-mail address:  [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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