RICHMOND (NEWS 1130) – New numbers show Chinese nationals are arriving at YVR and failing to declare millions of dollars worth of cash.
According to government statistics obtained by NDP Housing Critic David Eby through a Freedom of Information request, $13 million worth of undeclared cash has been seized at the airport over the past three years from Chinese nationals alone.
But he says the $323 million worth of declared cash brought through YVR over that time frame by people from China is also a concern. “When you’re talking about more than a quarter-billion dollars coming in cash through the airport, the question is, where is the money going? The concern is obviously that a lot of it is going into the real estate market.”
The money seized is returned after the payment of a maximum $5,000 fine. “There was a case where a guy was bringing in $177,000 and his fine was $5,000 and he was able to claim the money back,” says Eby. “The point of requiring people to declare it is to detect money laundering and identify money that is coming from illicit sources. That’s why customs asks people to declare it when they’re coming in. There’s no tax on it, there’s no penalty on it. They just want to know who’s bringing it in so it can be tracked.”
He proposes an additional property tax for people who don’t pay income tax in BC. “The obvious issue in my mind is that if we’ve got more than a quarter-billion dollars coming in cash through the airport, the provincial government should be interested in whether or not that money is ending up in our real estate market and distorting the market,” says Eby. “There should be a requirement around additional taxes. We’ve got a great proposal to identify international money coming into the housing market that came from the Sauder School of Business that could easily be implemented — putting an additional property tax on people who aren’t paying their income tax in BC but are buying property.”
“That’s one way to respond. But I really do think that the provincial government should be very interested and concerned about the issue of money laundering in relation to our real estate market and where this money is going,” explains Eby.
A bill proposing a property tax along these lines put forward by the NDP was quashed by the governing BC Liberals earlier this year.