News / Vancouver

Vancouver real estate agent accused of helping clients avoid foreign-buyer tax

NDP housing critic David Eby says this type of behaviour is “entirely predictable”

The Real Estate Council of B.C. confirmed it is investigating a Realtor who is advertising “solutions” to the additional 15 per cent property transfer tax for foreign buyers in the Vancouver area.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

The Real Estate Council of B.C. confirmed it is investigating a Realtor who is advertising “solutions” to the additional 15 per cent property transfer tax for foreign buyers in the Vancouver area.

At least one Realtor is already being accused of helping clients avoid the province’s new foreign-buyer tax in what the B.C. NDP housing critic calls an “entirely predictable reaction,” triggering an investigation from the real estate board.

The Real Estate Council of B.C. confirmed Wednseday it is investigating a Realtor who was allegedly advertising “solutions” to the additional 15 per cent property transfer tax for foreign buyers in the Vancouver area.

In an email to clients, obtained by several media outlets, Michael Stewart with Century 21 allegedly suggests clients can assign presale condos to a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.  

The real estate board said this behaviour is not allowed under anti-avoidance rules in the new legislation and has ordered Stewart to stop the alleged advertising to clients.

“The Council has contacted the licensee and the brokerage to advise them to immediately cease these advertisements. We have opened an investigation and will be looking into the matter very closely,” said a spokesperson from RECBC in a written statement.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark said her government is ready to catch those who try to skirt the new tax.

“We have an audit team ready to go to make sure that every one of these transactions that was on the table, and that closes before August 2, gets a very close look,” she said at a press conference on Wednesday.

“Anybody trying to find loopholes is going to discover very quickly that these loopholes don’t stand up.”

But NDP MLA David Eby argued Stewart was essentially giving “basic tax advice” to his clients and that it’s up to the government to come up with better policy.

“This is an entirely predictable reaction to a poorly designed tax,” said the provincial housing critic.

“Tax avoidance would be recommending that the person do something illegal and as far as I can tell, reading this legislation, there’s no tax on transferring presale condos. Period. So if there’s no tax you can’t avoid it.”

Stewart did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

With files from David P. Ball

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