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February 21, 2018

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On February 20, 2018, the BC Ministry of Finance released the 2018 Provincial Budget. A summary of the provincial budget highlights is provided.

Property Transfer Tax (“PTT”)

Effective February 21, 2018, the PTT applicable to residential property will increase from 3% (applicable on the fair market value above $2 million) to 5% on the component of the fair market value above $3 million.

Further, the additional PTT applicable to foreign buyers of residential properties will increase from 15% to 20%. This tax is expanded from Metro Vancouver to include the Capital Regional District, the Regional District of Central Okanagan, the Fraser Valley Regional District and the Regional District of Nanaimo. Transitional rules (not yet defined) may exempt eligible property transactions entered into before February 21, 2018; however, there are no transitional rules for transactions in Metro Vancouver.

Effective for transactions occurring on or after February 21, 2018, transfers of a bankrupt’s principal residence from a bankruptcy trustee to the bankrupt or the bankrupt’s spouse or former spouse are exempt from PTT.

Currently, the PTT Act includes a general anti-avoidance rule (“GAAR”) that applies only to the foreign buyers tax.  Effective on royal assent, the GAAR would be extended to the entire PTT Act.  That is, an avoidance transaction without a bona fide purpose other than to obtain a tax benefit (i.e., avoidance of PTT) may result in a denial of the tax benefit and allow the administrator to determine “reasonable” tax consequences to the transferee or transferor.  This change may impact the use of bare trusts in the future.

Speculation Tax

Legislation will be introduced in 2018 to impose a speculation tax on residential property in BC, specifically in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Capital and Nanaimo Regional Districts and in the municipalities of Kelowna and West Kelowna.

This tax will target foreign and domestic home owners who do not pay income tax in BC, including satellite families with high worldwide household income that pay little income tax in BC. Up-front exemptions will be available for most principal residences, qualifying long-term rental properties and certain special cases.

The tax rate in 2018 will be $5 per $1,000 of assessed value and will increase to $20 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2019. A non-refundable income tax credit will be introduced to provide relief to those who do not qualify for an up-front exemption but who pay income taxes in BC.

Details on how to apply for the exemptions and the income tax credit will be provided prior to the introduction of the tax.

Other Housing Measures

Other housing related measures announced in the budget include the following:

  • The property value threshold for the full home owner grant is increased to $1.65 million in 2018 (from $1.6 million in 2017). The grant is reduced by $5 for every $1,000 of assessed value in excess of the threshold.
  • Effective for 2019 and subsequent tax years, the school tax is being increased and will be applied at a tax rate of 0.2% on the portion of a residential property’s taxable assessed value that exceeds $3 million but does not exceed $4 million. A tax rate of 0.4% will apply on the portion of the taxable assessed value that exceeds $4 million.

Employer Health Tax (“EHT”) and Medical Services Plan (“MSP”)

Effective January 1, 2018, MSP premiums were reduced by 50%, as announced in the Budget 2017 Update. The BC government has announced that MSP premiums will be eliminated effective January 1, 2020.

The lost MSP revenue will be replaced by an EHT starting in the 2019 calendar year. Details on the frequency of instalment payments and aggregation of payroll among associated businesses is yet to be released. Subject to legislative approval, the following EHT rates will apply effective January 1, 2019:

Annual BC Payroll Annual EHT Tax as % of Payroll
$500,000 or less $0 0.00%
$750,000 $7,313 0.98%
$1 million $14,625 1.46%
$1.25 million $21,938 1.76%
$1.5 million $29,250 1.95%
Over $1.5 million $29,250 plus 1.95% of payroll over $1.5 million 1.95%

Other Tax Measures

Other tax measures announced in the budget include the following:

  • The interactive digital media tax credit is extended for five years to August 31, 2023.
  • The mining flow-through share tax credit is being extended for one year to the end of 2018.
  • The Film Incentive BC tax credit is expanded to include scriptwriting expenditures on BC labour incurred by a corporation prior to the completion of the final script stage of the production, effective for expenditures incurred on or after February 21, 2018.
  • The book publishing tax credit is extended for three years to March 31, 2021.
  • The farmer’s food donation tax credit is being extended for one year to the end of 2019.
  • The infirm dependent tax credit and caregiver tax credit are replaced with a new non-refundable BC caregiver tax credit effective for 2018 and subsequent years. The maximum BC caregiver credit amount is $4,556 per infirm dependent for 2018, providing a benefit of up to $230.53.
  • The BC education tax credit is eliminated effective for 2019 and subsequent years. Unused BC education amounts carried forward from years prior to 2019 will remain available to be claimed in 2019 and subsequent tax years.

For more information about the 2018 Provincial Budget Highlights we encourage you to contact us.

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