B.C. NDP housing critic David Eby is calling for a government crackdown on tax evaders and money launderers in the wake of a Globe and Mail investigation that points to lax enforcement of ongoing fraud in Vancouver's hot real estate market.
The report, published Saturday, alleges a Vancouver man pocketed millions dodging real estate taxes and quoted others who said they were aware of systemic fraud involving real estate transactions.
Eby said there is a "chronic and ongoing shortage of auditors" in the Finance Ministry and accused the government of consistently failing to bring in sufficient resources to investigate these cases.
"When I think about the depth of this crisis, what I think about is the corrosive effect on people's confidence in the government."
Eby said the message to the public is "nobody's paying attention. Nobody cares."
B.C. Finance Minister Michael de Jong issued a news release following the story's publication pointing out it is the job of the Canada Revenue Agency to enforce tax law.
"I have and will continue to communicate this expectation to Finance Minister Morneau and the federal government," he said in a statement.
In July, the B.C. government introduced a 15 per cent property transfer tax on foreign nationals who buy residential real estate in Metro Vancouver.
De Jong said those measures are aimed at addressing the types of issues raised in the newspaper report.
However, Eby urged the B.C. government to do more than expect action from the federal government.
"Ottawa clearly doesn't care what's happening in Metro Vancouver," he said.
'How are they paying for the house?'
Eby said the NDP is calling on the province to link real estate transaction data with the income tax system in order to determine whether buyers spending large amounts of cash have a legitimate source of income.
"How are they paying for the house? That's a very basic question."
Eby said that there is not sufficient data to determine whether cracking down on these schemes will affect affordability in the Vancouver housing market.
The B.C. NDP have proposed the creation of a special task force that would work with University of British Columbia economists to collect data on Metro Vancouver real estate buyers.
With files from The Early Edition
To hear the interview click on the link labeled NDP calls on B.C. government to crack down on tax dodging real estate speculators