B.C. tight-lipped about potential refunds for foreign buyer tax
Published Monday, January 30, 2017 6:57PM PST
Premier Christy Clark's surprise announcement that B.C. will lift the foreign buyer tax under certain circumstances has some wondering whether they're in line for a hefty refund.
Clark dropped the bombshell before Sunday's Lunar New Year Parade in Vancouver, promising to exempt people who have work permits and live in the province from the steep 15 per cent levy.
"We believe the best and brightest should be able to come to British Columbia," she told reporters.
That was a stunning reversal for some, including U.S. citizen Nic Benner, who moved to B.C. with his family last year.
Benner had already signed a contract on a Langley townhouse and paid a $25,000 deposit when the government announced the tax in July.
It meant they would have needed to pay an additional $80,000 to purchase the home. When they couldn't scrape together the money, they had to walk away from their sizeable deposit.
"It hit us emotionally quite strong. It was a very hard first three months living here not knowing where we were going to live," Benner said.
Benner, whose family now rents, told CTV News he's pleased to see the government dialing back a policy he considers to be discriminatory, but he hopes they will also make things right for the people who already lost thousands to the law.
"They should repair the damage they did," he said.
On Monday, the B.C. government declined to comment on whether it would be issuing any refunds to people with work permits who were dinged by the tax, but promised more details are coming.
"We will be able to address this level of detail when the regulations are announced in due course," a spokesperson said in an email.
The opposition NDP asked for an exemption for people in the province with work permits back when the tax was being debated, but was ignored.
Housing critic David Eby said penalizing people who moved into B.C. for job opportunities never made any sense.
"It was really bizarre because one of the reasons the government brought in the tax was out of control home values impacting the ability of employers to hire the employees they wanted," Eby said.
"They wouldn't come to the Lower Mainland because they could get the same job that paid better where housing was cheaper in other places."
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan