Toronto proposes tax on home purchases by foreigners

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He didn't say the auditor general and Ontario's Financial Accountability Office have warned the Liberals that they have plunged the province into precarious levels of debt.

Heaven forbid they should think of lowering taxes instead.

Officials from Canada and its most populous province will meet on Tuesday to bring Toronto's hot housing market to heel, under pressure from voters angry that speculators or foreigners are fueling a bubble in Canada's largest city.

The tax would be imposed on buyers in what is known as the Greater Golden Horseshoe area who are not citizens, permanent residents or Canadian corporations.

Toronto Mayor John Tory has floated the possibility of a vacant home tax modelled after Vancouver's, which came into effect this year.

This week, Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter said there is no question the Vancouver tax is affecting the Victoria real estate market.

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Wein said his company builds condos and houses throughout the Toronto region and generally requires that buyers get permission from Great Gulf to reassign their contracts for new homes.

But, similar to what transpired in Vancouver, the changes are unlikely to have a long-term impact on house prices in the Toronto area.

The provincial announcement comes amid fears that Toronto's red-hot real estate market is fuelled in part by foreign speculation.

Home sales plunged and price growth stalled for months in Vancouver following the B.C. government's introduction of a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers last August.

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That kind of tax would discourage speculation and make it more expensive to "flip" homes, he said.

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"If we look at what economists are saying, look at what folks who are trying to buy a home are saying, it's really gotten to the point where it is out of control and we need to do something", she said. Plus a 75 cent regulatory charge which is at least 75 cents more than Ontario power regulation is worth. "Well, when people have mortgages on their house and it drops 30 per cent, in some case that drop might be as much as what their mortgage is, so they have to be very careful when they try to control prices of property".

Rules for real estate agents will also be reviewed, in particular practices such as double ending, where the agent represents both the buyer and the seller. "If the new construction (post-1991) exemption is completely eliminated, the other announced incentives to encourage new apartment construction will ‎be of limited value, particularly if interest rates move upward", he said.

The plan, tabled by the Liberals and Premier Kathleen Wynne, contains a series of 16 measures created to "help more people find an affordable place to call home, while bringing stability to the real estate market and protecting the investment of homeowners", according to a government release.

- Updates to the Residential Tenancies Act to include a standard lease agreement, tighter provisions for "landlord's own use" evictions, and technical changes to the Landlord-Tenant Board meant to make the process fairer, as well as other changes.

Providing municipalities with the flexibility to use property tax tools to help unlock development opportunities.

- An effort to understand and tackle practices that may be contributing to tax avoidance and excessive speculation in the housing market.

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The issue has become a headache for the province's Liberal government, which is trailing the Progressive Conservatives in polls ahead of an election in June next year, and lawmakers face a hard balancing act to find policies that will stabilise prices without crashing the market.

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