Land Owner Transparency Act Introduced

The Province has introduced the Land Owner Transparency Act to establish a beneficial ownership registry for property in B.C. The aim of the registry is to prevent hidden ownership and complement other initiatives to prevent tax evasion. The registry will be public and is intended to be operational in 2020.

The Act will require corporations, trusts and partnerships to disclose beneficial owners at the time of legal transfer of a property, and for any subsequent changes in beneficial owners. The Act is also retroactive, requiring disclosures for all existing beneficial owners, within a timeframe to be prescribed by regulation.

UBCM released a submission at the 2018 Convention in support of the proposed legislation. This submission was based on UBCM policy calling for provincial action to discourage speculation in real estate, particularly by foreign investors, and to ensure that investors pay a fair share of federal and provincial taxes.

The intent of the registry is to make information about the owners of B.C. real estate publicly available, and to support tax authorities, law enforcement agencies and relevant regulators to target tax evasion, fraud and money laundering. The Act also establishes penalties for failure to disclose, and for criminal offences.

In conjunction with the Land Owner Transparency Act, the Province is introducing amendments to the Business Corporations Act that would require private companies to hold accurate and current information about beneficial owners.

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