Photo: Ian D. Keating/Flickr
It’s been one year since Metro Vancouver’s foreign-buyer tax was implemented and, so far, the levy has raked in a substantial sum of money for the province.
The tax was implemented in August 2016 to cool the region’s fast-rising home prices and for the fiscal year has collected $102 million in revenue, according to British Columbia’s Ministry of Finance.
On Tuesday, BC’s Minister of Finance Carole James released the 2016-2017 Public Accounts discussing the province’s financial standing for the fiscal year, ending March 31st.
The BC government concluded the year with an operating surplus of $2.7 billion.
The gain in surplus is attributed to a $3.4-billion increase in revenue over the budget forecast, while spending was $1.3 billion more than allotted.
Overall provincial taxes garnered more than expected last year. In fact, $2.8 billion higher than budgeted.
This surplus includes collecting $1.5 billion more than budgeted in personal income tax revenue and $787 million more in property-transfer taxes.
In total, $2 billion in revenue was made from property-transfer taxes — $102 million of which is thanks to BC’s foreign buyer tax for Metro Vancouver, says the Ministry during a press conference on Tuesday.
Whether or not the newly formed NDP government will expand the levy to other real estate markets, including Vancouver Island, is unknown at this time, Minister James told The Canadian Press.
To address the high cost of living in many communities around the province, James adds that the NDP is planning programs to benefit seniors, middle-income families and businesses.
“It’s really tough for people out there to see the benefit of a surplus this size when they’re struggling day to day to manage, when you take a look at the poverty rates in our province,” says James.
Under the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act, the surplus made last year will be applied to the provincial operating debt.
Overall debt in the province totalled $591 million higher than expected for the fiscal year.
The increase is due to a $1.2-billion decrease in taxpayer-supported debt but offset by collecting $1.8 billion more in self-supported debt.
The Ministry of Finance is slated to present its 2017 budget update on September 11th, which will include the first quarterly report.