Premier John Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James take questions in the B.C. legislature. (Hansard TV)

Homeowners hire lawyer to fight speculation tax

B.C. government notified of pending class action lawsuit

A group of homeowners has hired a lawyer to prepare a class action lawsuit challenging the B.C. government’s speculation tax on second homes.

A fundraising page started by a group called Canadians Against the B.C. Spec Tax had raised more than $8,000 by Friday morning, and their lawyer sent a letter to the B.C. Attorney General and finance ministries asking for documents to be retained for the case.

“We also expect the class will include American homeowners who are also adversely affected by the proposed tax,” wrote lawyer Shayne Strukoff of international law firm Gowlings WLG.

“Given the substantial financial burden that the tax would impose on homeowners, the tax would effectively restrict the ability of Canadians living in provinces outside of B.C. to live in B.C. In our view, such restriction would violate the interprovincial mobility rights guaranteed to Canadians by Section 6 of the Charter.”

RELATED: Arizona vacationers consider suing over tax

Introduced in the February budget as an extension of the empty home tax imposed by the City of Vancouver to target mainly foreign real estate investors, the area affected by the tax was whittled down to major urban centres after an outcry from people with vacation homes.

It now captures about 32,000 properties, 20,000 of which are owned by B.C. residents, James confirmed in debate on her ministry’s budget this week. This prompted a renewed attack by opposition MLAs, who say it still isn’t a speculation tax but rather an asset tax on people with second homes.

James stressed that 99 per cent of B.C. residents won’t pay the tax, and it is needed to promote rentals.

“One per cent who have second or third or fourth homes that they own in the regions that we’ve targeted will pay the speculation tax, if they choose not to rent their place out,” James said Thursday. “We’re in a housing crisis.”

James rolled back the extent of the tax in March after protests from vacation homeowners, exempting the Gulf Islands, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, the Juan de Fuca region in Premier John Horgan’s constituency and rural areas of the Fraser Valley and Central Okanagan.

It currently applies to Metro Vancouver, Greater Victoria and the municipalities of Nanaimo, Lantzville, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, Kelowna and West Kelowna. It is to take effect based on 2018 assessed property values, at 0.5 per cent for B.C. residents and two per cent for foreign owners and “satellite families” who don’t pay income tax in B.C.

Albertans and other Canadians whose principal residence is outside B.C. will pay 0.5 per cent in 2018 and one per cent in 2019 and later.

Just Posted

Take to the sky for final Our Town in Port Alberni

Last summer evening event takes place at Harbour Quay

North Island College launches Aboriginal College Pathway in Port Alberni

Aboriginal students will have a new, supportive start to their education this fall

New fire reported near North Taylor Arm in Alberni Valley

Number of human-caused fires a “concern”

Port Alberni RCMP looking for owners of stolen vehicle rims

Owners will be required to identify their property

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

VIDEO: Y2K Spitfire arrives in Comox

Pilot Dave Hadfield flew the warbird while local legend, Stocky Edwards, marshalled him in

Lower Mainland police secure 94 charges in dial-a-dope bust

Seven people with ties to the Red Scorpion gang are facing drug and firearm charges

Second measles scare this summer at YVR

An infected traveller flew out of Vancouver’s airport three times

Judge OKs Weinstein suit, cites casting couch’s history

Actress Kadian Noble can sue disgraced Hollywood mogul for violating sex trafficking laws

Employers to raise salaries 2.6% on average next year: report

Firm points to factors such possibility of more trade protectionism, rising interest rates

B.C. school’s pledge to ban sex outside of heterosexual marriage now optional

Community convenant of Langley’s Trinity Western University has been centre of rights debate

Better Business Bureau open for Torch Award nominations

Deadline to nominate an amazing business or employee is Aug. 31

PM Trudeau and federal ministers to meet on Vancouver Island

Cabinet retreat will be held in Nanaimo from Aug. 21-23

Most Read