Province to exempt those with work permits from foreign buyers tax, premier says

Premier Christy Clark said her government is planning to make changes to the foreign homebuyers tax, saying the government plans to exempt those who have work permits.

'We're going to lift the foreign owners tax on people who have work permits,' says premier

Premier Christy Clark says the government will make changes to who is required to pay the foreign buyers tax. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Premier Christy Clark said her government is planning to make changes to the foreign homebuyers tax, saying it will exempt those in Metro Vancouver who have work permits.

Clark made the comments Sunday while speaking to reporters at a Lunar New Year event in Vancouver.

"We're going to lift the foreign owners tax on people who have work permits, who are paying taxes and living in British Columbia as a way to encourage more people to come."

Clark did not elaborate on the proposed changes. She was discussing U.S. President Donald Trump's immigration order that bars citizens from a select group of Muslim-majority countries.

Clark told reporters that her government opposes the ban.

"We are going to fight to make sure that people who are dual citizens, Canadians who may hold a passport from Iran or Iraq or Syria — can continue to travel. Those are the values we stand for as Canadians."

Clark's Liberal government introduced the tax in August 2016. It adds an additional 15 per cent property transfer tax on buyers who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

The impact was immediate as sales in Vancouver dropped 26 per cent in August compared to the previous year.

The foreign homebuyers tax legislation does not have to be amended to make this change.

The intention of the tax was was not to prevent foreign nationals from coming to B.C. to live and work, a government spokesman said.