HOME EQUITY TAX ‘RESEARCH’ ORDERED BY CMHC
As you know, one of the most cherished things in Canada is NO CAPITAL GAINS TAX on your personal residence (PR). Canadian homeowners currently don’t pay tax when they sell their primary residence.
When the Liberals – out of the blue – brought in a ‘registration’ system in the tax year 2017, that was an eyebrow raiser. Now suddenly, we were required to report basic information (date of acquisition, proceeds of disposition and description of the property) on our income tax and benefit return when we sold our principal residence to claim the full principal residence exemption.
I mused then as to ‘why’ in my weekly ‘Facts by Email’. I speculated then that the government would come after the home offices (you make business in your home, right?) and thus would have to know when you sold (PR) and check what you claimed for home office expenses … Bang.
You lose capital gain exemption on that portion the office represents in your PR home, I thought. We also discussed this possibility at length on the great Michal Campbell Money Talks show (CKNW 980). When the “Laneway craze” started a few years ago, I was at pains to write in my newsletter and again discuss with Michael the fact that building a laneway house for extra income, loses you that portion of the PR that is used to generate income (ergo Laneway house). I concluded that to put one on a 33 foot lot on a house you owned for 20 years (with a million in profit) and possibly lose 33 percent of your exemption may be foolish.
Then 4 weeks ago Michael Campbell again raised the spectre of “Government will need taxes and real estate is in the crosshairs”. He and I discussed the possibility that government (now having a base of knowing when, what and how much for you sold) may plan to take away the capital gain exemption. The Conservatives were accused in the fall of 2019 for “misleading claims about a ‘secret’ Liberal housing tax” (by the liberals). This was supposed to be a staggered tax on the gain: First year 50%, 35% second year, etc., etc. The Liberals said then it does not exist. I took what was for me considerable flak for making the statement: “…if you want to be sure analyze a trust or sell and re-buy another house….” Lock in the gain. I mean if you have $500,000 or more in gain … keep it tax free if you can. Some (not subscribers to OzBuzz) called it ‘fearmongering’.
Well, on Friday the 17th July it was announced that (from a report in the Toronto SUN) CMHC was spending a quarter-million having UBC do “federal home equity tax research”.
That makes it clear, it is now in the open – they are analyzing it! They need UBC to tell them how best to implement it! Its funny (actually not!) that the economic forecast from the (CMHC) includes the ‘potential for falling real-estate prices’ and ‘increases in household debt.’ But yet they analyze taxing the gain!? Huh? In any case:
“The objective is to identify solutions that could level the playing field between renters and owners,” said CMHC spokesperson Audrey-Anne Coulombe. It’s being called the first CMHC-sponsored project via cabinet’s National Housing Strategy.
The UBC project Generation Squeeze: “…many Canadians bank on profits from home ownership to secure their financial future and gain wealth. This bound us to a catch-22: The more we made home ownership profitable, the more we made housing unaffordable. If we want a future where all Canadians can afford a good home, including our kids and grandkids, we must unravel this pre-existing catch-22. We need to make it so that no Canadian relies on gains in housing wealth to feel secure, and we need to rethink policies that by encouraging the financialization of housing push the cost to buy or rent a home even further out of reach.”
It’s estimated a national home sales tax would raise at least $6 billion a year for the federal treasury (Toronto Sun). I would very much like to know – how they arrive at that figure. But dear Reader, the real burning question is – will this include some retroactivity of some sort. Retroactivity you say? No government ever would be so dastardly as to nilly willy change the rules backward?
Well, then of course BC brought in the foreign buyer’s tax (no problem from me here) but brought it in retroactively. No, I do not believe anything they state, analyze, research, promise or report. In a 2019 report, UBC researchers called homeowners lottery winners with an unfair tax advantage. I believe that the same researchers advised to bring in the foreign buyer tax retroactively.
Major Point: What to do? Well, it is not law yet, it may even never be law (not likely), they may not bring it in retroactively, they may exempt some people. In any case… LOOK at your situation. In the last 7 years we have seen a lot of gains. If you are sitting on $500,000, a million or two – think about how long it would take you to earn this tax free?
They may also like to capture ALL capital gain but let you carry it forward (Harper had that on his platform) – but then you must continue to buy stuff … eventually you lose a good portion to tax anyway.
So, look at your options:
- Do nothing and hope for the best and trust they won’t do it… hahahahahahaha!
- Analyze a possible sale to a trust (but be darn sure its works).
- Sell your house, trigger the gain tax free and buy another house in the same area, or build one and have the gain start on it. You would actually be a true participant in Canada’s economy … you are creating employment for scores of lawyers, realtors, bankers and if building … carpenters, furniture makers etc. well, you get the point.
Look up the original article here: https://torontosun.com/news/national/cmhc-spending-a-quarter-million-on-federal-home-equity-tax-research