BC’s Hidden Ownership Registry – Important Points That You Should Know
Starting in the beginning of December the BC government has launched a new “hidden ownership “ registry to help combat money laundering, and make the real estate market more transparent. The goal is to create a publicly searchable database of information on individuals that directly or indirectly own real estate in BC.
Any corporation or trustee or partnership that buys land in BC, must disclose the interest holders of that land through the landowner transparency registry. Existing registered landowners have one year to register and disclose their interest holders.
The information provided may be used by tax and law authorities to investigate and crackdown on illegal activity.
The registry was formed after an expert panel on real estate said the disclosure of beneficial ownership is the “single most important measure” that can be taken to address money laundering.
The panel’s 2019 report estimated that $7.4 billion was laundered through BC in 2018. Including $5 billion through real estate. A report by Transparency International Canada found that in 2016, almost half of the expensive residential properties were held by either shell companies, trusts or nominees, making it difficult to find out who the real owner of the property was.
Finance minister Selina Robinson said this first-of-its-kind registry will help return transparency and moderation to housing markets throughout BC.
While the process may be sometimes laborious, expensive for some situations where trusts and family trusts are involved, for example, this comprehensive and expensive database will be available to taxation authorities, police and government agencies, and a portion to the public.
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