Disparity: Canada failing to crack down on mansion owners who plead poverty on par with the Downtown Eastside
Who will pay the taxes for universities, health care and rapid transit if residents of some of Metro Vancouver’s exclusive neighbourhoods are reporting poverty-level incomes?
Some homeowners in tony parts of the west side of Vancouver and Richmond are claiming to have income as low as people struggling in Vancouver’s poor Downtown Eastside.
The tax unfairness caused by the growing phenomenon of mansion owners alleging poverty can be traced largely to Canada failing to catch trans-national migrants who refuse to report their total global income at tax times. …
Statistics Canada data shows the upscale neighbourhoods in Metro where more than 30 per cent of adults are reporting poverty have a high proportion of immigrants …
In addition, a large collection of adjacent neighbourhoods in north-central Richmond, where roughly 40,000 people tend to own either pricey houses or condos, has an unusually strong percentage claiming low incomes. …
Immigration Canada is aware of the reported-earnings anomaly. It released data this year showing refugees to the country appear to earn more income on average than the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have arrived via the businessinvestor program. The latter were required to temporarily invest $800,000 in Canada.
Many of the Metro households in fashionable neighbourhoods that claim low incomes appear to follow the well-documented “astronaut” scenario of investor immigrants, in which husbands often work offshore while their school-age children live in Canada. …
UBC geographer David Ley says Canada’s business-investor immigration programs have led to “200,000 people coming to (Metro) Vancouver … in the last generation.” …
The tax implications for Canada are disturbing. How many Canadians who are rich in assets and property, but low in reported income, are not paying their fair share for public services. How many are even receiving welfare cheques and GST refunds because they are “poor?” …
And although Ottawa brought in legislation in 2013 that required Canadians to declare their foreign assets, Vancouver immigration lawyer Samuel Hymn said neither the federal nor B.C. governments are cracking down on people who pay sky-high prices to buy Canadian houses but don’t pay taxes on global income.
That goes for both overseas property owners who are avoiding taxes through a legal loophole — by becoming non-residents for income tax purposes, for example — and for those residents acting outside the law by not reporting global income, Hyman said.
Advocates of economic globalization, like the Vancouver Board of Trade and B.C. real estate magnate David Choi, have traditionally opposed foreign-asset disclosure laws, says Millionaire Migrants.
But even left-wing stalwarts, such as Vancouver New Democrat Jenny Kwan, have spoken against foreign-asset disclosure legislation, in the name of intercultural sensitivity.
Non-disclosure of assets is a cultural trait of ethnic Chinese, Kwan is quoted saying in Millionaire Migrants. “The Chinese are very private about their money.” A law requiring them to disclose assets, Kwan said, “goes against our culture.”
This was not a new story, but Todd’s piece ratcheted it up, requiring a response from those who would otherwise prefer not to touch it: