Government says new tax will strengthen the economy, and all that
By Jake Wray, Senior Columnist
A controversial 15 per cent property transfer tax for foreign nationals will now apply to all goods and services within BC, the provincial government has announced.
The initial property transfer tax was introduced last month in an attempt to correct Metro Vancouver’s piping-hot housing market. In a press conference Friday, Premier Christy Clark said her administration quickly realized the tax could be expanded to help other markets within the economy.
“If the foreigners can come over here with their money and drive up housing prices, they must be making food, liquor, and gas prices go up as well,” Clark said.
“We’ve decided that foreigners should pay an extra 15 per cent on everything they buy in this great province. We haven’t received any of that tax revenue yet, but we’re claiming that those revenues will end up being a nice fat chunk of money. In fact, we’re already making vague election promises about what we’re going to do with that imaginary fund! All of this will allow us to put hard-working British Columbians and their families first.”
The Other Press went to the streets to see how British Columbians feel about the new tax measure.
Andrea Varga is a 32-year-old teacher from Belgium who has just arrived in Vancouver for a summer vacation. Her flight home isn’t until 12 days after the tax will take effect, and she voiced concerns that she will run out of money before her trip is over.
“When you add up the hotel, the meals, the bus tickets, and all the other little things you realize that 15 per cent is a lot extra to pay. Not every foreigner in this province is rich, so we can’t all afford this massive price hike. It’s almost as though discrimination against people based on their country of origin is wrong, or something,” said Varga.
“The provincial government should have implemented the tax gradually, so people like me would have time to avoid this backwards, fear-driven, isolationist cesspool,” she added.
Rudolph Zinc, assistant professor at UBC’s School of Economics, said in a phone interview that the new tax is absurd.
“It is certainly fair to say that large sums of foreign money are having an adverse effect on the local economy, but this tax doesn’t really address that issue. The problem here is not the nationality of the buyers, it’s the origin of the money, so taxing buyers based on their nationality makes no sense,” Zinc said.
“Myself and my colleagues have drafted a variety of alternative taxes aimed specifically at people who don’t earn income in BC. We would have gladly shared these strategies with the Liberals if they had bothered to consult literally anyone at all during the policy-making process.”
At press time, reports are showing that actually identifying foreigners in the checkout line is problematic, so the BC government has extended the tax to “anyone who looks foreign.”