Agents argue over foreign tax suggestion

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Justin da Rosa

Real estate veteran stirs controversy with foreign homebuyer tax argument.

“For quite some time also I have been saying that foreign Investors should be taxed at a much higher rate of land transfer tax, and if needed a higher capital gain taxes for non-residents; this does not mean absolutely to harm Canada, all the contrary this is to protect it against international speculators,” Oscar Vidal-Calvet, an agent with Royal LePage wrote in forum section of REP.

The comment was in response to Royal LePage President and CEO Phil Soper’s suggestion that a tax on foreign homebuyers would be un-Canadian.

“I was asked … if I supported new taxes on foreign investors. I think the answer is you need to be a lot more thoughtful than a yes or no,” Soper recently told REP. “Knee-jerk public policy like a change in taxes for political reasons would be a very sad more for a country known for its tolerance. Brand Canada would be harmed.”

Many have argued in favour of the federal government implementing measures to discourage foreign investment in the housing market. It is one factor some speculate is pushing prices to unreachable levels for Canadians in markets such as Toronto and Vancouver.

Soper suggested taxing foreigners in Canada would be akin to the United States placing one on Canadian homebuyers who helped prop up various housing markets in the wake of its recent housing collapse.

But not everyone agrees with that stance.

“Yes, Canadian investors did prop up sales in places such as Arizona a few years back. But did that drive Phoenix and Scottsdale prices into the stratosphere?” REP reader James Oberian wrote. “No, it simply helped to stabilize markets that were in otherwise downward freefall.”

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