Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Proposed Class Action against B.C. Argues Foreign-Buyers' Tax Unconstitutional

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Proposed Class Action against B.C. Argues Foreign-Buyers' Tax Unconstitutional

Article excerpt

Lawsuit says foreign-buyers' tax unconstitutional

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VANCOUVER - A 15-per-cent tax on foreign homebuyers in Metro Vancouver is unconstitutional and unfairly discriminates against people from Asia, a proposed class-action lawsuit against the British Columbia government argues.

An amended document filed in B.C. Supreme Court last week argues the so-called foreign-buyers' tax is unconstitutional because it violates equality rights by making an "arbitrary" distinction between those who are citizens and permanent residents of Canada and those who are not.

"The disadvantage perpetuates prejudice and stereotyping on the basis of national origin," the 26-page lawsuit says.

"The foreign nationals' property tax is disproportionately felt by person whose national origin is from an Asian country, a class of persons that have historically suffered discrimination in British Columbia."

The lawsuit, which was originally filed in September, says the tax unfairly assumes foreign nationals are wealthier than Canadians, and argues it violates dozens of international treaties guaranteeing equal treatment to non-Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

The B.C. government introduced the foreign-buyers' tax with little warning last summer in an effort to quell Metro Vancouver's overheated real-estate market, which saw July prices for detached homes soar 38 per cent over a single year.

The law was passed on July 28 and came into effect five days later, sparking a frenzy to complete property transfers before the tax kicked in on Aug. 2. The move also prompted the province's Land Title and Survey Authority to extend its hours and its availability over the long weekend.

A spokesman from the province's Finance Ministry confirmed in an email on Monday that the government had received the amended notice of claim and would file a response in due course.

"As this case is currently before the court, it would be inappropriate to comment on the specific matters that have been raised," Jamie Edwardson said. …

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