B.C. 'very serious' about closing loopholes in foreign buyers tax, minister says
Finance Minister Carole James says rent-to-own schemes legal, but tax avoidance isn't
B.C.'s finance minister says she intends to address loopholes in the foreign buyers tax, but rent-to-own programs like the one offered by a North Vancouver developer are generally legal.
Carole James spoke to CBC News on Thursday, after it was revealed her ministry had found no legal issues with the Vancouver Rent-to-Own program from Apex Western Homes. An ad from the developer promises to help foreign buyers "avoid" the 15 per cent tax.
"I can't talk about about individual cases, but I can say that rent-to-own leases are legal. It is legal to have a rent-to-own lease. It's not legal to avoid taxes," James said.
She added she was "very concerned" in general about programs that might allow homebuyers to dodge taxes.
"We're very serious about ending tax loopholes and finding those tax loopholes, and we'll be investigating," James said.
The Apex rent-to-own program allows buyers to offer a five per cent downpayment on a home and then enter into a lease agreement with the option to buy within five years.
CEO Ray Vesely acknowledged earlier this week that it might have been a mistake to use the word "avoid" in a promotional video.
He said the program simply gives newcomers more time to obtain permanent residency or a work permit, making them exempt from the tax when they finally close on the purchase.
With files from Megan Thomas