No Land Transfer Tax a Welcome Aspect of the Alberta Budget

Posted by Gurpreet Ghatehora on Friday, January 1st, 2016 at 11:35am.

Alberta’s new NDP government tabled its first budget since it was elected earlier this year and, surprisingly, there’s one tax that has many real estate experts excited. Or, rather, a lack of tax. Unlike many other parts of the country, Alberta’s latest budget actually forgoes a fairly standard tax on home sales, a land transfer tax. The effort, seen by many as a way to keep housing affordable through the tougher economic times, is being praised by many in the Edmonton real estate markets.

The CEO of the Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA), Ian Burns, praised the move, arguing that the “budget demonstrates the provinces commitment to affordable home ownership,” according to a recent interview. Indeed, similar taxes in other parts of the country have seen some home owners pay an additional five figures in taxes overall. A move that for some is simply impossible.

Ontario introduced their version of the land transfer tax some time ago, and their provincial government is currently looking at how municipalities could double their share of the tax. As it currently stands, this means a home that costs roughly $450,000 could see an increase in taxes from $5,375 to over $10,000. As it stands, only Toronto has permission to double their share, according to the province. But that privilege could be extended to the entire province.

But here in Alberta, the avoidance of such a tax could be helping people get into homes. “By avoiding the creation of such taxes in Alberta,” Burns says, “The government has taken an important step towards ensuring every Albertan has the best opportunity possible to one day afford their own home.

The latest budget has been heavily criticized for its tax increases and large deficit, but also praised for its initiatives designed to get people back to work and increased focus on needed improvements to social programs. In regard to housing, moves like not including a land tax means homes, especially for first-time buyers, could be more affordable.

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