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$3 million Vancouver real estate tax evasion investigation spurs CRA search warrants – Richmond News



The Canada Revenue Agency announced Wednesday two search warrants were issued in Vancouver related to an ongoing criminal investigation of alleged evasion of taxes on $3 million in unreported income from real estate transactions.

Details from the agency’s bulletin were sparse.

“On December 18, 2019, 16 CRA investigators took part in the operation, searching for evidence corresponding to the commission of offences against the Income Tax Act, Excise Tax Act, and the Criminal Code.

“The CRA has placed a significant focus in major centers such as the Lower Mainland in British Columbia, where there are consistently high numbers of real estate transactions. Today’s announcement further demonstrates how this focus is helping combat non-compliance and leveling the playing field for those who pay their taxes,” stated the CRA.

Recent tax audits of the B.C. real estate sector are now resulting in average assessments of more than $134,000, as the agency sharpens its aim at some of the most egregious instances of tax avoidance and evasion.

In a six-month period, from March to September of this year, the CRA has issued $149.9 million in assessments as a result of 1,113 real estate audits in B.C. alone.

In the first three months of 2019 average assessments were raking in more than $200,000.

The 2019 audits show an uptick in assessments for knowingly making false statements on returns – which can lead to criminal prosecution for tax evasion.

Steven Flynn, a chartered professional accountant who specializes in international taxation with Andersen Tax, told Glacier Media in June the results don’t surprise him, “because of the rapid increase in real estate prices and what’s been well-publicized activity, what with the flipping of properties and non-compliance and illegal activity that’s gone on in B.C.”

The real estate audit program effectively targets Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto properties. Since launching in 2015 the CRA has identified a total of $1.31 billion from its augmented real estate audit program, including $136.5 million from 2,188 penalties.

The CRA bulletin went on to state:

“Combatting non-compliance in the real estate sector requires a multi-pronged approach. This includes taxpayer education, publishing convictions, as well as collaborating with industry and government partners to reduce the social acceptability of, and participation in, the underground economy.

Tax evasion is a crime. Falsification of records, claims and CRA documents, wilfully not reporting income, or inflating expenses can lead to criminal charges, prosecution, jail time, and a criminal record. Under the income tax and excise tax laws, being convicted of tax evasion can include fines ranging from 50% to 200% of the evaded taxes and up to five years in jail. Being convicted of tax fraud under section 380 of the Criminal Code carries a sentence of up to 14 years in jail.

In 2018-2019, there were 22 convictions, with 12 taxpayers sent to jail for a total of 19 years. These individuals were sentenced for wilfully evading payment of $4,179,089 in taxes.”

It was not stated whether any of those 22 convictions were a result of the real estate audits.

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Vancouver real estate: homes with killer views command premium prices, and here's why they sell well in summer – The Georgia Straight



Most people simply want a roof over their heads.

Others with deep pockets look for something extra that may seem somewhat abstract to some.

They want views, and they’re willing to pay more.

“What’s in a view?” longtime Vancouver realtor David Hutchinson asked.

Well, it seems that it means a lot.

“In Vancouver we are spoilt. We love the views. Many people that leave Vancouver come back and say they missed the mountains,” Hutchinson told the Straight.

The Point Grey area property at 4717 Drummond Drive, which is selling for $24.8 milion, provides these ocean and mountain views on both first and second floors.

But how do you put a cost on a view?

“I had a client once, the house was overpriced, and whenever I brought up a price reduction, the seller would say, ‘But what about the view?’,” Hutchinson related.

In Vancouver, there are detached homes, townhouses, and condos that feature wonderful views, and the Sutton Group-West Coast Realty agent noted that they “all come with a price tag”.

What is the premium for a view?

Hutchinson noted that it can be tricky to peg a standard price.

He cited by way of example the pricing of outdoor patios, where one can soak in view.

Let’s say there’s a 1,000-square-foot condo priced at $1,000 a square foot. The condo unit has an 800-square-foot patio. How much is the patio?

“One realtor once told me that he prices it at half the price of the square foot price of the interior space, so $500 per square foot in this case,” Hutchinson said.

Designed by Arthur Erickson, this 3281 Point Grey Road home in Kitsilano is on the market for $14.8 million.

 Again, how do you price a view? 

“Some buyers will insist on a view, and will sacrifice a smaller home for expansive space that a view can sometimes give,” Hutchinson said.

The Sutton Group-West Coast Realty agent once had a retired client, who sold his home in Langley, and bought a condo in New Westminster. 

“He asked me, ‘Do you know why I wanted a condo here?’  I said ‘no’, and he told me he wanted a view of the Fraser River.  It’s a working river, he said. There is always something to see,” Hutchinson recalled.

There is one thing to consider though, the realtor pointed out.

“It rains a lot in Vancouver, and that expensive view can disappear for the much of the year,” Hutchinson said.

That’s why it’s always easier to sell on sunny days, he said.

“It’s like a completely different city during summer” Hutchinson said.

There are areas in Vancouver that offer a lot of views.

One is False Creek.

“Why do people like False Creek? Because you get the water and view of the city from just across the water. When you’re in the city, you don’t get a view of the city, but from False Creek you get the full view of the city, water and mountains,” Hutchinson said.

There’s Yaletown.

“Yaletown has great views, and you pay for them,” Hutchinson said.

He once had a client who loved Yaletown, and the proximity to shops, parks and restaurants.

“I showed him many condos, but he insisted on facing west. He wanted the sunset view,” Hutchinson said.

Here’s the view from townhouse 112 at 1288 Marinaside Crescent in Yaletown, which is for sale at $3.2 million.

The Sutton Group-West Coast Realty agent noted that in the downtown peninsula, Coal Harbour has “always been the preferred view destination, especially for those new to the city”.

“The views of the water and mountains always impress them. In Yaletown and West End, there are some very lovely water views, but Coal Harbour gets the ocean views with the backdrop of the mountains. It’s a picture-perfect postcard,” Hutchinson said.

So for those new to Vancouver and who came from places without the mountain ranges, Coal Harbour properties are “sold”.

“In my opinion, that is why Coal Harbour can demand an extra 10 percent in pricing compared to Yaletown,” Hutchinson said. 

Unit 701 at 1281 West Cordova Street in Coal Harbour is available for $8.5 million, and it has 270 degrees of breathtaking views.


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Vatican Owns Over 5,000 Properties Worldwide, It Reveals In First Disclosures On Its Real Estate Holdings – Forbes




The Vatican owns more than 5,000 church and investment properties around the world, a central office at the Catholic Church revealed for the first time Saturday, according to several news outlets — but the church is struggling with a budget deficit, plus years of alleged mismanagement tied to its investment strategy.

Key Facts

Most of the Vatican’s real estate holdings (4,051) are in Italy, the majority of which are used by church-affiliated groups or rented out at reduced prices instead of getting leased at market rate, according to a report from the church-run Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA) obtained by Reuters, Catholic News Service and other outlets.

APSA also reportedly holds over 1,000 properties in London, Geneva, Paris and other cities outside Italy, including a London real estate investment the Vatican controversially sank more than $400 million into nearly a decade ago.

Forbes has reached out to the Vatican for comment.


The Roman Curia — the Catholic Church’s central administrative body — ran a $76.3 million operating deficit in 2020, down from a $93.2 million deficit in 2019, according to a budget statement obtained Saturday by the Jesuit America magazine. In an interview with the church-run Vatican News, church official Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves called the Curia’s 2020 performance “better than what we expected,” partly because the church slashed expenses during the coronavirus pandemic. The church reported a larger overall deficit in 2020 than 2019, however, largely due to a drop in unrealized financial gains.

Key Background

The Vatican’s financial practices — and particularly its real estate holdings — have drawn scandal and scrutiny for years. Pope Francis reorganized how the church’s real estate investments are overseen last year, following years of sometimes fraught attempts to reform the Curia amid claims of embezzlement and endemic financial mismanagement. Several people are on trial for allegedly scamming the church out of millions of dollars in connection with its London real estate investment nearly a decade ago.

Further Reading

Behind the Vatican’s London real estate scandal (Associated Press)

Vatican reveals property holdings for first time in transparency drive (Reuters)

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LACKIE: As life — and T.O. real estate — gets back to normal, what's next? – Toronto Sun



The Toronto real estate market, having boomed for the better part of the pandemic, is finally taking a rest

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Is it just me or is life starting to feel a little normal again?


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Summer is in full swing, restaurants are open for business, and vaccines are now pretty easy to come by.

The pandemic is far from over, but still there’s a subtle ease to life again that feels good.

Perhaps it was this week’s announcement that the federal government would be moving forward with reopening the Canada-US border in early-August.

Or the news that Ontario’s colleges and universities would be returning to in-person classes this fall.

Things are inching back to a pre-pandemic status quo.

The Toronto real estate market, having boomed for the better part of the pandemic, is finally taking a rest. Things are quiet. It’s lovely.

Which begs the question: what comes next?

While most experts agree that it was a combination of low interest rates, pent-up demand, and changing buyer priorities that joined forces to drive sales to record levels, even through multiple stay-at-home orders, the undercurrent of it all has been something entirely more structural.


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A healthy balanced market is when, simply put, there is an equal level of buyers and sellers.

When there are more sellers than buyers, you have a “buyer’s market.”

When you have more buyers than sellers, you have a “seller’s market.”

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Broadly speaking, with the exception of a few blips along the way, Toronto has been a seller’s market for as long as I have been in the business.

In the neighbourhoods popular with upsizing young families, bidding wars are simply the norm.

And why is that? Some might say that it’s because of the widely adopted practice of underpricing as a means of driving multiple offers.

And while, yes, that certainly brings more buyers to the table and thus adds an overt layer of competition, that’s not it. It’s just a symptom of the broader issue.


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And this issue is this: if we had sufficient supply in the city of Toronto to meet demand, our current market conditions would be vastly different.

They wouldn’t be spilling out into the secondary markets around us.

The pandemic just shone a light on what has been a mounting reality: our population has grown faster than our housing supply and our government has failed to address it.

At 1.8 million homes behind the G7 average, Canada falls dead last in the number of housing units per 1,000 residents.

Frustratingly, the top-down solutions to this impending crisis have been interruptions to the demand cycle: playing with interest rates, tightening lending qualifications, introducing non-resident speculation and vacancy taxes.


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These are Band-Aids. At best they are tools to be used to slow things down while the real solutions come down the pike. We need density. We need intensification. We need thoughtful, strategic building policies that marry environmental responsibility with pragmatic solutions to sprawl.

Instead, the most recent federal budget promised an additional $2.5B over five years to address affordable housing via their Rapid Housing Initiative.

This is a drop in the bucket.

We need expedience not hand wringing.

If government flipped a switch tomorrow it would still take four to five years to see the housing units come to market. The time was yesterday.

So, for those wondering what comes next in our real estate market, it’s a safe bet that once people have enjoyed their summer of reprieve from the strange pandemic reality we find ourselves in, the market will reawaken.

It will simply have to in order to meet the return of students and the backlog of immigration produced by almost 18 months of closed borders. The demand-driven rental and condo sectors that have “softened” and “balanced” these past months will surely surge.

And it was predictable. Market forces, while undeniably complicated and nuanced, have a few inescapable fundamentals – until we prioritize sufficient supply to meet demand, housing unaffordability will be the norm. That part isn’t rocket science.

On Twitter: @brynnlackie



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