Proposed class action against B.C. says foreign buyers' tax unconstitutional

by The Canadian Press06 Mar 2017
A proposed class-action lawsuit says British Columbia's 15-per-cent tax on foreign nationals who buy homes in the Vancouver area is unfairly prejudiced against people from Asia, who have historically faced discrimination in the province.

Amended documents filed in B.C. Supreme Court last week argue the so-called foreign-buyers' tax is unconstitutional because it violates equality rights by making an ``arbitrary'' distinction between those who are citizens and permanent residents of Canada and those who are not.

The lawsuit, which was originally filed in September, says the tax unfairly assumes foreign nationals are wealthier than Canadians, and argues it violates dozens of international treaties guaranteeing equal treatment to non-Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

The B.C. government introduced the foreign-buyers' tax last summer in an effort to quell Metro Vancouver's overheated real-estate market, which saw July prices for detached homes soar 38 per cent over a single year.

The representative plaintiff in the proposed class action is Jing Li, a Chinese national who learned she would have to pay an additional $83,000 on a $587,000 home in Langley that she agreed to purchase days before the government announced the new tax.

Earlier this year, Premier Christy Clark tweaked the rules around the law exempting anyone living in B.C. on a work permit and who pays taxes in the province.

Canadian Press


  • by 3/6/2017 4:15:04 PM

    Has the tweak in effect? Still waiting to find out

  • by Jimmy Ding 3/6/2017 4:23:57 PM

    It doesn't apply to only people from Asia. The question is, should any foreigners, Asian or non-, be able to come to Canada with bucketfuls of money (...and a lot of it from questionable sources...) and be able to bid up BC's real estate to the point where people who already live here cannot afford it? Should they have the ability (or the right) to drive my kids out to Abbotsford/Chilliwack/Kelowna to live?

  • by Don Johnson 3/6/2017 4:27:15 PM

    I am astounded that the real estate boards in BC didn't launch action against the province as the Tax is also unconstitutional. The government is stating we want to force the value of real estate down through forcing buyers to pay large tax however effectively they have also taken away the right of the property owner to receive the maximum value for his property by stealing the cream. Owners own the property fee simple which is the highest form of land ownership. Indeed it is protected back to 1215 and the Magna Carta. Why as realtors do we sit back and let government trample all over our clients rights - we need to stand up for our clients rights as we are the only large organization in the country that have a mandate to stand up and protect property rights - If we sell property we sell the buyer a bundle of rights yet when gov/t attacks that bundle and effectively removes the owners rights that is an expropriation of use that that owner is loosing without due compensation which the expropriation act sates government must pay him for. Government imposes significant time and cost roadblocks and barriers to land development and to home builders - the shortage comes from government policy to restrict construction yet flood market with new buyers - then they have audacity to say we are the problem - As realtors we should be ashamed that CREA didn't take the province to the supreme court for a ruling last fall!! With the fees we pay 30$/year should be put into a legal defence fund that challenges governments when they come stealing property rights . Our clients would certainly have a much higher opinion of our professionalism if we did

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