In April 2017, the Government of Ontario introduced the Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST), which is applied to foreign and non-resident property buyers as a measure to control the real estate market in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area.*

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The 15 per cent tax applies to all residential real estate purchases or acquisition of an interest in residential property located in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region and pertains to foreign individuals who are neither Canadian permanent residents nor citizens. Bill 134 includes foreign corporations that are neither registered in Canada nor controlled by a Canadian individual or board of directors, and foreign entities with taxable trustees, or their beneficiaries.

The NRST, which is over and above the Land Transfer Tax, was intended to cool the real estate market in Ontario and support housing affordability by targeting foreign speculators and property purchasers.

However, there are scenarios in which foreign nationals can be exempted, legally avoid the tax or be entitled for a full NRST rebate. It is very simple! In cases of exclusion, the NRST does not apply to the following:

  1. Non-residential real estate, such as commercial properties.
  2. Purchases of property that are off-plan due to no transfer duties until the completion of the project. If foreign nationals become permanent residents prior to the title transfer, automatically the NRST does not apply to them.
  3. Foreign nationals who are a shareholder or beneficiary of a Canadian corporation or trustee, as long as they are not controlling the legal entities.

There are limited exemptions which include:

  1. A foreign national who holds a nomination certificate under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) at the time of the purchase or acquisition.
  2. Refugees or protected persons who is conferred under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
  3. A foreign national spouse of a Canadian permanent resident or citizen, where both have jointly purchased the property as their principal residence.

A larger number of foreign nationals are entitled for a rebate. To apply for a rebate, one must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  1. Be a potential Canadian permanent resident candidate, student or foreign worker in Canada.
  2. Hold the title of the property exclusively or with a spouse.
  3. Apply for a rebate within four years after they paid the NRST; and
  4. The property is their principal residence for at least 60 days after the date of purchase.

Based on the above, eligibility is further categorized as follows:

  1. Potential permanent residents refers to those who have not yet become a Canadian permanent resident but intend on applying within four years of purchasing their property. The applicant must apply for the rebate within 90 days of becoming a Canadian permanent resident within the four years. For example, those visiting Canada whose PR applications are under process.
  2. International students refers to those who have been enrolled full time for a continuous period of at least two years in a designated post-secondary institution in Ontario from the date of purchase or acquisition. Parents of such students can avoid paying NRST by purchasing the property in their children’s name instead of theirs.
  3. Temporary foreign workers are those who have worked full time for at least one year continuously, or equivalent to 1,560 paid hours under a valid work permit in Ontario since the date of purchase or acquisition. In this case, the purchaser may apply for a rebate immediately after paying the tax.

The real estate market in Ontario is irrefutably one of the most stable and lucrative industries in the country, citing an approximately 20-per-cent increase in value year-on-year, in spite of the repercussions caused by COVID-19.

As an expert in property and immigration law, my advice is that foreign nationals who wish to purchase a residential property in Ontario, and have the ability to do so, should do so. Don’t be discouraged by the NRST, as there are many ways to work around this, as stipulated above.

Instead of waiting for Canadian permanent residency to avoid paying the NRST, it would be economically more viable to later seek a full rebate, and meanwhile gain a capital income from a profitable real estate investment.

 

  • The GGH includes the following geographic areas: (a) City of Barrie, (b) County of Brant, (c) City of Brantford, (d) County of Dufferin, (e) Regional Municipality of Durham, (f) City of Guelph, (g) Haldimand County, (h) Regional Municipality of Halton, (i) City of Hamilton, (j) City of Kawartha Lakes, (k) Regional Municipality of Niagara, (l) County of Northumberland, (m) City of Orillia, (n) Regional Municipality of Peel, (m) City of Peterborough, (n) County of Peterborough, (o) County of Simcoe, (p) City of Toronto, (q) Regional Municipality of Waterloo, (r) County of Wellington, and (s) Regional Municipality of York.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Does this NRST apply to those who bought properties long before April 2017 and they are still foreign residents!!

  2. For the past few years I’ve been preaching that Canada needs a country wide 40% foreign buyer’s tax to keep Canada affordable for Canadians. It doesn’t appear our industry or government cares about them.

  3. Real strange that foreign buyers are required to pay the additional 15 per cent to buy a cottage in The Kawartha’s but not in Haliburton or Muskoka. The Golden Horseshoe area has been described as being the fastest growing area on North America which may apply to GTA but certainly does not apply to my cottage market in Northern Peterborough County. I submit that Peterborough County should not be included in the Golden Horseshoe Area which also triggers some challenging planning regulations which do not apply to Haliburton or Muskoka

  4. Hi Pat, I think the butterfly net might be designed to catch up with non-residents when they sell? But that’s just an equity holdback, subsequently released so of course you are correct; if declared as a principle residence they escape the capital gains tax?

    As to parental financial help, you might want to share my old article overview reminder:

    • Gift Money, Homes and Divorce
    (Was It a Gift or a Loan?)

    http://www.carolyne.com/gift.html

    Cordially,
    Carolyne L (ex-RLP) 🍁

    • Hi Ambrose: It’s the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area. The GGH includes the following geographic areas: (a) City of Barrie, (b) County of Brant, (c) City of Brantford, (d) County of Dufferin, (e) Regional Municipality of Durham, (f) City of Guelph, (g) Haldimand County, (h) Regional Municipality of Halton, (i) City of Hamilton, (j) City of Kawartha Lakes, (k) Regional Municipality of Niagara, (l) County of Northumberland, (m) City of Orillia, (n) Regional Municipality of Peel, (m) City of Peterborough, (n) County of Peterborough, (o) County of Simcoe, (p) City of Toronto, (q) Regional Municipality of Waterloo, (r) County of Wellington, and (s) Regional Municipality of York.

      The story has now been updated.

  5. Frankly the tax isn’t enough and there are just too many ways to get around it. The Market has been pushed and accelerated to its current crazy level by non-resident buyers for years. Meanwhile Young Canadians are looking at a future where Real Estate Prices and home ownership will not include most of them who don’t have access to parental financial help. When statements are made that at least 50% of Toronto Condo’s are Non Resident owned the fact that we are selling this Country to Non-Resident owners becomes extremely clear. Frankly if as a Canadian and Resident Owner you are fortunate to own a second property and you sell it, YOU are subject to tax on 50% of the profit, and I’m prepared to say that I doubt many of the Non-residents, all of whom own more that 1 and possibly many properties have ever paid any tax on profit. With a Soft Current Leader, a Real Tool, who doesn’t currently have a Seat and Ministers who spend their time critizing each other as opposed to invoking Laws and Rules and Taxes that actually help Canadians, the future looks bleak.

    Pat Melhuish, Broker. RLP

    • The real estate and construction industries are practically the only drivers of the Canadian economy – and have been for some time now. Manufacturing is dead, tourism is dead and the restaurant industry is dying. Trudeau has made it very clear he has every intention of shutting down our Natural Resource industry and has done a fine job thus far. No, we should not scare foreign investment away. The reason prices are so high is lack of inventory and interest rates below inflation. Lack of inventory created by government regulation. The Greenbelt in Ontario is a fine example. Of course, we need to protect green space and sensitive ecological areas, but not allowing farmers to sell their land for development is insane. Remember, the latest drastic price increases have occurred at a time when immigration is practically at zero.

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