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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Did you know, according to the CRD, every person produces an average of 185–200 litres of wastewater per day? Here’s where most of it gets treated, at the new wastewater treatment facility at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt. (CRD image)
View Royal signs on to wastewater funding plan

Capital Regional District requesting to borrow up to $34.3 million to upgrade infrastructure

Susan Lundy is an award-winning writer – including a two-time recipient of the prestigious Jack Webster Award of Distinction – with a 35-year career in print journalism. She is well known throughout B.C. as the managing editor of Black Press Media’s Boulevard Magazine and is also the author of the book Heritage Apples. (Lia Crowe photo)
Award-winning journalist and humour columnist pens ode to motherhood and family

Susan Lundy is the managing editor of Black Press Media’s Boulevard Magazine

Kenny Podmore, here seen at Sidney’s cenotaph in November, says he feels for the veterans after organizers had to cancel an event acknowledging Victory in Europe (VE) Day for the second time in as many years because of COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich event marking 75th anniversary of VE-Day cancelled

Sidney resident first planned event for May 9, 2020 moved to May 8 before being cancelled

Individuals and businesses are encouraged to bring their unwanted electronics to Tillicum Centre May 14 to be shredded, recycled or donated. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria residents can shred, donate electronics safely

Vancouver Island Better Business Bureau hosts event May 14 at Tillicum Centre

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Former University of British Columbia student Stephanie Hale, 22. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett
Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC Okanagan for ‘mishandling’ sexual assault report

Stephanie Hale did not return to campus after the student she alleges attacked her was cleared of wrongdoing

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman’s restaurant is located in the tiny community of Field, which relies on tourism

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Most Read