Chart from the April 20 B.C. budget shows sharp dip in real estate sales early in the COVID-19 pandemic and the even steeper climb since late 2020. (B.C. government)

Chart from the April 20 B.C. budget shows sharp dip in real estate sales early in the COVID-19 pandemic and the even steeper climb since late 2020. (B.C. government)

Hot B.C. housing market drives property transfer tax gains

B.C. budget boosts tobacco, sweet drinks, carbon taxes

B.C.’s recovery from the COVID-19 recession of 2020 showed up most dramatically in a $5.5 billion improvement in the provincial deficit reported in the province’s latest budget, after it had been forecast to be $13.6 billion last fall in the depths of the pandemic.

While natural resource income recovered and lumber prices soared, B.C. reaped its most significant gains from strong income taxes and a surge in real estate that neither the province nor its private sector advisory board saw coming.

“This $5.5 billion improvement is mainly thanks to higher revenues, but also somewhat lower spending and improved operating results in government organizations, including ICBC,” Finance Minister Selina Robinson said in her budget presentation April 20.

The budget estimates that property taxes to the province are $2.3 billion for the year ended March 31, rising to nearly $3 billion for 2021-22. Property transfer tax took in $2 billion last fiscal year and is forecast to decline slightly to $1.97 billion in the current year, as the finance ministry forecasts a “moderation in market activity in 2022.”

Monthly home sales reached record levels in late 2020 and have continued to grow in 2021, with high-wage employment “resilient” in the pandemic, low interest rates and demand for larger homes by remote workers, budget documents say.

Real estate sales rose in every B.C. region in 2020, with Greater Vancouver sales up 75 per cent, Okanagan Mainline almost doubling at 94.6 per cent, Fraser Valley up 110 per cent and Greater Victoria sales up 60 per cent.

“Meanwhile, the average home sale price in B.C. increased by 11.6 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019,” the budget documents say. “Strong average sale price growth was observed in most markets in the province. Year-to-date to February 2021, prices were up by 16.5 per cent compared to the same period a year earlier.”

ICBC net revenue is estimated at $709 million for the year just passed, dropping to $154 million next year as major reforms in injury payouts are to take effect.

Provincial tobacco taxes continue to soar effective July 1, rising from 29.5 cents to 32.5 cents on a single cigarette. Provincial sales tax also applies to vaping products as of April 1.

RELATED: B.C. deficits add up to $19 billion in three-year budget

RELATED: B.C. budget offers COVID-19 aid to tourism, hospitality

An exemption of B.C.’s seven per cent sales tax for sweetened carbonated drinks ended April 1, and the province also required foreign streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ to pay sales tax along with domestic services like CraveTV.

B.C.’s carbon tax increased to 9.96 cents on a litre of gasoline as of April 1, with another increase scheduled for April 2022. In Metro Vancouver, gasoline taxes are now 36.96 cents per litre, including TransLink, motor fuel tax and carbon tax.

Natural gas royalties are forecast to pick up quickly, from $191 million to $286 million this year and $315 million in 2022-23 as B.C.’s first large-scale LNG export project nears completion. Forest revenues and the mineral tax on coal mines are rising, with a 14 per cent increase estimated for this year. That is expected to fall 6.1 per cent in 2022-23, based mostly on lumber prices declining from current high levels.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

2021 B.C. BudgetBC politics

Just Posted

Masset Habour Days will be from May 21 to 25 in 2021, in a family-friendly safe environment. A parade in 2018 was a highlight of a previous Harbour Days celebration. (File Photo)
Birds, boats and blooms are featured in 2021 Harbour Days

Community festival runs from May 21 to 25 in Masset

Kayak the humpback whale was found dead on a Haida Gwaii beach on Saturday, May 15, 2021. (Marine Education and Research Society)
Kayak the humpback whale found dead on Haida Gwaii beach

Whale was estimated to be only 18 years old

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

Troy Patterson, a Cadboro Bay 15-year-old, got a virtual meeting with B.C.’s environment minister months after he started an online petition calling for construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline to stop. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
B.C. teen’s 23,000-name Coastal GasLink petition gets him an audience with the minister

15-year-old Saanich high school student and George Heyman discussed project for about 30 minutes

Announced Tuesday, May 18 by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, the province added gyms, dance and fitness studios to its list of places where face coverings are mandatory (AP/Steven Senne)
Masks now required at all times inside B.C. gyms, including during workouts

Those who disobey could be subject to a $230 fine

Reinhard “Bud” Loewen of Abbotsford has now been charged with 21 counts of sexual assault related to his massage business. (Facebook photo)
Former Abbotsford masseur now faces 21 counts of sexual assault

Bud Loewen of Bud’s Massage Therapy initally faced three charges

Over the years, police have worked with sketch artists to draw what the boys could have looked like at the times of their deaths. (Vancouver Police Department)
DNA breakthrough expected in cold case involving murdered Vancouver boys, 7 and 8

Forensic analysts are working to identify relatives of the children, whose bodies were found in Stanley Park in 1953

Livestock competitions have been part of the Pacific National Exhibiton for more than a century. (Maple Ridge News files)
B.C. provides $50 million to keep major tourist attractions going

Tour bus companies also eligible for latest COVID-19 aid

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Derek Descoteau with his trusty dog Harvey. (Photo submitted)
Friends provide continuing comfort for family in wake of unresolved senseless B.C. murder

Case remains before the courts five years after Derek Descoteau’s abrupt stabbing death in Chemainus

The top photo is of a real carbine rifle, while the bottom photo is the airsoft rifle seized from a Kelowna man on May 15. (Contributed)
RCMP issue warning: ‘Imitation firearms need to be dealt with responsibly’

A man brandishing his airsoft rifle in public had his weapon seized by Mounties on Saturday

Most Read