Toronto councillor renews call for foreign buyers tax

A Toronto councillor is renewing calls to implement a foreign buyers tax to cool down the city’s red-hot real estate market.

Coun. Jim Karygiannis wants a tax of five per cent levied on foreign buyers

Toronto Coun. Jim Karygiannis wants to slap foreign buyers with a five-per-cent tax. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

A Toronto councillor is renewing calls to implement a foreign buyers tax to cool down the city's red-hot real estate market.

Coun. Jim Karygiannis, who held a Thursday news conference alongside a McMaster University economist, has sent a letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne asking for permission to slap a five-per-cent tax on foreign buyers.

Ontario has balked at the idea of taxing foreign buyers over concerns that such a tax could significantly hurt the value of homes that people already own. The province is also keeping an eye on Vancouver's market, where a 15 per cent foreign buyers tax came into effect on Aug. 2, 2016.

"We're not taxing our own folks," Karygiannis told reporters at city hall.

Economist Atif Kubursi said the tax would make real estate speculators reconsider their choices.

"We're asking people who typically don't pay taxes here to bear part of the burden," he said.

"We're getting money from these speculators and giving it to poor families, or to families who cannot afford to buy a home."

Earlier this month, the Toronto Real Estate Board reported that the average home price in the GTA soared at the end of the year. The average home price hit $730,472 last month, up 20 per cent compared to December 2015.

Kubursi said he thinks the tax should actually be 15 per cent of the price of the home.

The Toronto Real Estate Board and some real estate lawyers have condemned the idea, saying the city should be welcoming international investment.