(File Photo)

In an effort to crack down on tax evasion and hidden ownership of real estate, the BC government is planning to establish a publicly accessible registry of people who own property in the province.

“British Columbia has developed a reputation as an attractive place to anonymously invest and hide wealth. Right now in B.C., real estate investors can hide behind numbered companies, offshore and domestic trusts, and corporations,” said Carole James, Minister of Finance.

“Ending this type of hidden ownership in real estate will help us fight tax evasion, tax fraud and money laundering. Our goal is to return fairness to the housing market.”

The purpose of having a registry of real estate owners is to provide tax auditors and law enforcement agencies with enough information to be able to combat foreign and domestic tax evasion.

The proposed legislation, entitled the Land Owner Transparency Act, has been drafted and is open to residents of British Columbia to provide feedback on.

“In 2016, Transparency International Canada released a report indicating that of the 100 most valuable residential properties in Greater Vancouver, nearly one-third were owned by shell companies,” reads a summary of the report.

“Furthermore, data leaks such as the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers have provided examples of Canada’s reputation as an attractive place to create anonymous companies and hide wealth.”

Click here to read the full draft. To provide feedback to the provincial government, email your comments to [email protected].

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