BC Property Transfer Tax Frequently Asked Questions
What is Property Transfer Tax?
It is a tax register paid for changes to a certificate of title to Land Title Office in British Columbia. Simply said – if you are buying a property, you have to pay this tax.
So it is property tax, right?
Wrong. Property tax is paid regularly by homeowner. Property transfer tax is paid once, after you purchase the property. The rates are different too.
When do I have to pay the tax?
You are obliged to pay the tax, when you:
- acquire a registered interest in the property, or
- gain an additional registered interest in the property, or
- become the registered holder of a lease, life estate, or
- right to purchase against the property is required to pay the tax unless they qualify for an exemption. This person is referred to as the transferee or purchaser
Some examples of taxable transactions:
- a transfer of legal title
- a right to purchase (an agreement for sale)
- a lease or lease modification agreement
- a life estate
- a foreclosure
- a property transfer pursuant to a corporate reorganization
- an escheat, forfeiture or quit claim
- a Crown grant
What happens I do not pay the tax?
Your transaction may not be registered!
What is the Fair Market Value?!
In most cases it is the purchasing price. However, in some cases there is no monetary exchange (gift, transfer to a shareholder). In such situation, fair market value is used for the tax purposes. This value is usually based on BC property assessment.
I am first-time homebuyer. Do I have to pay the tax?
No, if you are buying your first property. This property has to be your principal residence and you have to live there at least one year. Full exemption is possible only when fair value of your property do not exceed $425,000 and the land does not exceed 0.5 hectares (1.24 acres).
If the value exceeds the qualifying value ($425,000, but it may change in the future) by no more than $25,000, you are eligible for partial exemption. Now the things get complicated!
Take the result from our calculator and multiple it by [450,000-FMV]/25,000. Thats your rebate.
Example: Your FMV is $445,000, your tax is $6,900. Then [450,000-445,000]/25,000=1,380. Your first-time homebuyer tax is $6,900-$1,380=$5,520
Are there any other exemptions?
The rules are tough, but there are several exemptions at least. Most notably:
- some transfers between family members
- net interest passing
- transfers involving joint tenants and tenants in common
- transfers involving an agreement for sale
- transfers following bankruptcy
- transfers resulting from marriage breakdowns
- transfers to registered charities
- transfers under the Veterans’ Land Act (Canada)
- transfers by which property escheats, reverts or forfeits to the Crown, or where the property is returned
- transfers to municipalities and other local governments
What happens if I cheat?
Be aware that every person can be audited. An audit will identify any transactions where tax obligation may have been done incorrectly.
Can I appeal?
Yes, you can appeal both tax assessment and consequent penalties within 90 days since the date on Notice of Assessment t. There are two tiers – appeal to the Minister of Finance and appeal to the Court or arbitration.