A woman has filed a class-action lawsuit against the province following the implementation of the foreign buyers tax six weeks ago.
Jing Li, who’s originally from China, says she was forced to pay an additional $80,000 on a Langley home that she was in the process of purchasing after the 15% tax was introduced. Li had saved for a 10% deposit on the $560,000 home.
Li’s lawyer, Luciana Brasil, tells Daily Hive that she believes the foreign buyers tax is unconstitutional, and they’re seeking compensation as well as a repeal of the tax.
“Our case isn’t about whether or not there is a housing crisis or an affordability issue,” says Brasil. “It’s about the province having identified an issue and then using nationality and country of origin as the basis to correct it.”
She says the province’s implementation of this tax falls outside of their jurisdiction and that since the federal government rules over foreign trade and commerce and illegal aliens that it should fall under their remit.
“The other problem is the federal government has already committed in over 30 treaties with international countries to treat the nationals of those countries in a manner that’s not any less favourably than the manner in which it treats Canadians,” says Brasil. “When I, as a Canadian citizen, go and buy the same property that Miss Li bought and I don’t have to pay the 15 percent, well, she’s being treated in a manner less favourably than me.”
She adds that laws like the recently introduced empty homes tax are a more direct solution to a problem, compared to “targeting people’s nationalities.”
The next steps will be to get a certification hearing – that is, to decide whether or not the case is valid as a class-action suit – and that could take up to six months or even a year.
The foreign buyers tax was implemented on August 2, and Premier Christy Clark said its aim was to create greater accessibility for middle-class home buyers.
“These changes are about helping to make sure that British Columbians can continue to live, work and raise their families in our vibrant communities,” she said in a statement.