A Vancouver-based immigration lawyer is raising questions about possible loopholes opened up by Premier Christy Clark’s new rollback on the foreign buyers tax.
Richard Kurland says without serious vetting, the policy could open up room for “ghost transactions” in which investors look for people with work permits to park their money in local real estate.
“Family members can be brought into Canada in order to access work permits, and gain the financial advantage of that exemption. It’s also possible that people with work permits in hand have a new line of business. Because I’m a work permit holder, I’m entitled to buy this property without the 15%.”
Kurland says it’s also not clear exactly what the premier means by “work permit” and whether that applies to students or business people with a visitor record authorizing work.
“We’re going to be entering a phase of ghost transactions. Who really owns this stuff?”
He says killing the tax for work permit holders could open the door to investors hiding transactions through family members or existing work permit holders.
At the same time, he says other legal workers, like those with student visas, or business visitor records could find themselves shut out.
“The bottom line is both documents allow you to legally remain in Vancouver working for a B.C. employer, pay taxes, one’s called a work permit, one isn’t.”
Kurland says the idea itself could have merit, but says the policy needs serious vetting by immigration and tax experts.
It remains unclear whether buyers caught mid-transaction last summer could see some compensation for deals that fell through.
On Sunday, Clark said the province would no longer charge the tax to people in B.C. with a valid permit to work.