The recent announcement of a 15% foreign buyer tax was a surprise to a lot of people. Even finance ministry staff were kept in the dark about the tax.
One of the few exceptions seems to have been a very successful local condo marketer who also happens to be the chief fundraiser for the liberal government.
Mr. Rennie said he knew an additional property transfer tax for foreigners was coming about three weeks ago, but he figured it would be about 5 to 8 per cent. He said a more holistic approach would have created a tax targeting speculators of any nationality for flipping properties rapidly and “interfering in the market.”
But as Rennie points out, the polling showed that people were ‘frantic’ and specifically wanted a tax on foreign buyers. He has since clarified that it was an astute assumption based on those polls rather than inside information that led him to believe a foreign buyer tax was coming. He has offered to step down as the chief fundraiser if the BC liberal government asks him to.
Though the optics of a marketer having advance knowledge of a surprise tax in his market isn’t great, what advantage could be taken of this position?
So far the tax has mainly provided marketing opportunities and big headlines of a 75% drop in sales even though most sales haven’t been recorded yet. Nobody really knows what affect this tax will have on the market if any, so what would you have done with a 3 week advance notice that this tax was coming?