DBM Real Estate Law Blog

For the inaugural blog post of the DBM Real Estate Law Blog, we are focusing on BC government’s budget for 2013 which was released two weeks ago.

While this year’s budget doesn’t rock the world of real estate law with drastic changes (the return of PST has already done enough), there are several highlights from the 2013 budget that are relevant for real estate law:

Property Transfer Tax Act

Exemption for the Transfer of a Family Farm from a Deceased’s Estate Expanded

The transfer of a deceased person’s family farm currently qualifies for exemption from property transfer tax if the deceased owned, used, and was farming the land immediately before death.

Effective on Royal Assent, the Act is amended to expand the exemption to include a family farm owned by the deceased that was, immediately before the deceased’s death, used and farmed by one or more of the deceased, the deceased’s family members, or a family farm corporation.

Home Owner Grant Act

Threshold for Home Owner Grant Phase-out Increased

As announced on January 2, 2013, the threshold for the phase-out of the home owner grant is increased from $1,285,000 to $1,295,000 for the 2013 tax year. This increase ensures that at least 95 per cent of homeowners are eligible for the full grant, consistent with longstanding government policy.

For properties valued above the threshold of $1,295,000, the grant is reduced by $5 for every $1,000 of assessed value in excess of the threshold.

Home Owner Grant Benefit Allowed for Certain Homeowners Who Claimed the Grant Incorrectly

The Home Owner Grant Program allows qualifying homeowners to apply for a grant on property that is their principal residence. If the grant is approved and the grant administrator subsequently determines the property was not the homeowner’s principal residence, the homeowner is disentitled from the grant.

Effective January 2011, the Home Owner Grant Program is amended to provide relief to homeowners who have been disentitled from the grant because they incorrectly applied for a grant on a second residential property rather than on their principal residence.

Taxation (Rural Area) Act

Provincial Rural Area Property Tax Rates Set

A single rural area residential property tax rate applies province-wide. The longstanding rate setting policy that average residential rural property taxes increase by the previous year’s provincial inflation rate will continue for 2013.

Consistent with longstanding policy, non-residential rural area property tax rates will be set so that total non-residential rural area tax revenue will increase by inflation plus new construction. The rates will be set when revised assessment roll data are available in the spring.

Land Tax Deferment Act

Deferment Program for Families with Children Expanded

Currently the Property Tax Deferment Program for Families with Children allows eligible homeowners who financially support a child under age 18 to defer their property taxes.

Effective on the later of March 19, 2013 and Royal Assent, the program is expanded to allow an eligible homeowner who financially supports a child aged 18 or over to defer taxes if the child is enrolled in an educational institution or is disabled. Under the expanded program, the child must either be the child or step child of the homeowner, or be a child who qualifies a homeowner to defer if that homeowner already defers under the current Families with Children program.

To be eligible, a homeowner must financially support the child, meet the basic eligibility criteria for the program, and have at least 15 per cent equity in the home. Simple interest is charged on deferred taxes at the prime rate.

Deferment Programs Amended to Allow Partial Disposal of Property

Under the property tax deferment programs, eligible homeowners can defer property taxes until the home is sold, transferred to a new owner or becomes part of an estate, if they meet a minimum equity requirement. Currently, the agreement ends and repayment of deferred taxes is required if a homeowner disposes of any part of the property, regardless of size.

Effective on Royal Assent, the Act is amended to allow the deferment agreement to continue when the homeowner disposes of a portion of the property if the homeowner:

  • continues to own the portion of the property on which the principal residence is located;
  • continues to meet the minimum equity requirements of the program in respect of the portion of the property on which the principal residence is located; and
  • retains no interest in the disposed property.

The above mentioned changes, while relatively minor, provide some new relief or rights to people with an interest in BC real estate.

– Stanley Leo, Associate

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