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Strong support for homeowner taxes in BC: survey

Last Updated Jun 5, 2018 at 7:54 pm PDT

FILE - BC Attorney General David Eby (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

62% of people think a 2% speculation tax is a good or very good idea

67% agree with introducing a 0.2% tax property tax on homes worth $3 million to $4 million

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Despite vocal opposition to the province’s taxes on homeowners, a survey finds most British Columbians support additional fees on speculators, empty homes, expensive properties, foreign buyers and flippers.

An online survey of 800 people across the province found 62 per cent of people think a two per cent speculation tax–a tax on homes that remain vacant and are not the primary residence of the owner–is a good or very good idea. Meanwhile, 67 per cent agree with introducing a 0.2 per cent tax property tax on homes worth $3 million to $4 million and putting the money towards schools.

“It’s really a situation where there’s a group that’s been very vocal in its opposition, particularly to the school tax, but it doesn’t seem to be representative of the entire BC population,” said Mario Canseco, president of Research Co, the company that did the survey.

Attorney General David Eby recently faced backlash at a townhall meeting from homeowners angry about the proposed school tax. Opponents say it’s a tax on unrealized wealth and may force them to move or raise rents on secondary suites.

The survey found was also strong support for increasing the property transfer tax for $3 million homes from 3 per cent to five per cent (69 per cent), expanding the foreign buyer’s tax to areas outside Metro Vancouver (76 per cent) and increasing it to 20 per cent (80 per cent).

Support for the BC Liberal’s tax on capital gains earned flipping pre-built homes was also high.

None of the responders were asked if they are subject to any of the taxes.

Support was strongest in the Lower Mainland, where housing prices continue to rise, but dipped in the Okanagan and Northern BC, according to Canseco.

“Because the foreign owners’ tax is going to be applying to some areas there and there’s a little bit of uncertainty,” he said, adding support crossed party lines. “These measures tend to be highly supported by voters no matter which party they supported in the last election.

The foreign buyer’s tax was introduced by former Liberal premier Christy Clark in 2016. The move has been credited with reducing the number of foreign purchases, but doing little to curb overall prices.