File and pay property transfer tax

When you register an interest in a property, you or your legal professional must file a property transfer tax return. Unless you qualify for an exemption, you must also pay property transfer tax and, if applicable, the additional property transfer tax.

The Land Title Office may refuse to register your property transfer if the tax isn’t paid on the date the transfer is registered.

How to file and pay

In most cases, property transfers are completed by a legal professional and they submit your return and payment to the Land Title Office.

If you’re a legal professional filing on behalf of your client, you must use the web-based property transfer tax return and pay the property transfer tax. For more details, see information for legal professionals on filing a property transfer tax return.

Surviving joint tenant

If you’re an individual who’s transferring an interest from another joint tenant who is deceased, you can complete the Surviving Joint Tenant Manual Property Transfer Tax Return (FIN 544) (PDF) without using a legal professional to claim that exemption from the property transfer tax.

Follow the instructions provided on the form on how to complete and submit it to the Land Title Office with your land title application.

This exemption doesn’t apply to the additional property transfer tax.

Tax avoidance, penalties and offences

All property transfer transactions are subject to audit and all property transfer tax returns will be reviewed and verified. The audit period is six years from the date the transfer is registered with the Land Title Office.

Anti-avoidance provisions exist and will be enforced to ensure all property purchasers report and pay the correct amount of property transfer tax or additional property transfer tax.

For example, we examine circumstances where Canadians, as taxable trustees, hold property in trust for a foreign entity or are trustees where a beneficiary may be a foreign entity. Canadians who are taxable trustees will be assessed the additional property transfer tax for foreign buyers on purchases within specified areas of B.C.

Also, a transaction or a series of transactions that result directly or indirectly in a tax benefit and that is not undertaken primarily for a bona fide purpose other than obtaining a tax benefit, is considered tax avoidance. We audit these transactions to determine and assess the tax consequence.

Failure to pay the tax as required or purposely completing the property transfer tax return or refund applications with incorrect or misleading information may result in a penalty. If a false declaration is made when claiming a first time homebuyers’ exemption or refund, a penalty will be assessed equal to and in addition to the amount of exemption or refund claimed.

Other penalties for evading or avoiding the tax or making false certifications may include:

  • Double the tax
  • Tax plus interest
  • A fine of $200,000 for corporations, or
  • $100,000 for individuals and/or up to two years in prison

The penalties apply to  anyone who participates in tax avoidance, even if you were not aware of the provisions. To correctly file your property transfer tax return and avoid being subject to penalties, we recommend that you obtain legal assistance.