Vancouver Eases Foreign Home Buyer Tax to Attract Tech Workers

  • Canadian province exempts certain skilled workers from 15% tax
  • British Columbia premier says tech sector needs immigrants

British Columbia will exempt some immigrants from a 15 percent home buyers tax in a bid to ensure the Canadian province attracts skilled workers and entrepreneurs.

Foreign workers entering the country through a so-called Provincial Nominee Program won’t have to pay the real estate tax. The break will only apply to residents in the Vancouver area.

"Our growing tech sector depends" on the program, Premier Christy Clark said in a statement Friday. "That’s why we’re removing barriers, so they can get to work, create jobs, and help build B.C."

Vancouver, where workers need higher incomes to match the soaring cost of real estate, has sought to remodel itself from a 19th-century mining and lumber town into a high-tech mecca for animation design, startups and financial services. When the province imposed the surprise foreign buyers tax last August, industry executives had warned it would make it harder for Vancouver to attract foreign talent.

British Columbia estimates about 30,000 job openings by 2025 will be filled by immigrants.

“Even if every eligible British Columbian was trained, there would not be enough workers to fill those openings," according to the statement. The technology sector is also considered a top performer, with employment rising 2.9 percent last year, compared with 2.5 percent growth in the province overall and 1.1 percent across Canada’s tech sector, according to the statement.

The exemption will only apply to foreigners buying principal residences in the Metro Vancouver region, the province said. Foreigners who become permanent residents or citizens within one year of buying a home will also be able to claim a rebate.