15% Non-Resident-Speculation-Tax (NRST)

By: Winnie J Luk and Trudie Tong

Overview

The complete NRST update may be found in the following Ministry of Finance website: https://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/bulletins/nrst/

The following is a summary:

The Non-Resident-Speculation-Tax (NRST) is a 15 per cent tax imposed on the purchase of a residential property located in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region (GGH) by individuals who are not citizens or permanent residents of Canada, or by foreign corporations and taxable trustees.

The NRST applies in addition to the general land transfer tax in Ontario.

To faciliate the closing, Landmark Law may assist purchasers’ in payment of the NRST and application of the rebate to the Ministry of Finance.

Property Areas Subject to NRST

The GGH covers 16 geographic areas including: Hamilton, Kawartha Lakes, Niagara, Peel, Peterborough, Simcoe, Toronto, Waterloo, and York.

Effective on/after April 21, 2017

The NRST is effective if a valid agreement of purchase and sale was signed or assigned to another person on April 21, 2017 or after.

Foreign Nationals subject to the NRST

A foreign national purchaser who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada is subject to NRST.

Types of Property Subject to the NRST

The NRST applies to the purchasing of land which contains one to six single family residences. Examples of land containing one single family residence include land containing

  • a detached house
  • a semi-detached house
  • a townhouse or;
  • a condominium unit

In a situation involving the purchase of multiple condominium units, each unit would be considered land containing one single family residence, For example: duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, fiveplexes and sixplexes.

The NRST does not apply to multi‑residential rental apartment buildings with more than six units, agricultural land, commercial land, or industrial land. The NRST applies only on the price of a residential property. If the land includes both residential property and another type of property, the NRST applies only on the portion of the price attributable to the residential property.

General application

The 15 per cent NRST applies to the price for a purchase of residential property if any one of the purchasers is a foreign national, foreign corporation or taxable trustee. Therefore if the foreign purchaser’s co-purchaser(s) are Canadian citizens or permanent residents, they would be jointly and severally liable for any NRST payable.

The NRST applies to unregistered dispositions of a beneficial interest in residential property. This includes purchases of residential property where section 3 of the Land Transfer Tax Act is applicable.

The NRST does not apply when a person purchases property as a trustee of a mutual fund trust, real estate investment trust, or specified investment flow‑through trust.

Exemptions

An exemption from the NRST may be available

  • to a foreign national who jointly purchases residential property with a spouse only (and no other foreign national), who is a Canadian citizen, permanent resident of Canada; or
  • to foreign nationals or spouses of those qualify for the exemption as “nominee” or “refugee” under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program or Immigration and Refugee Protection Act at the time of the purchase.

Rebates

A rebate of the NRST may be available in the following situations:

  • The foreign national becomes a permanent resident of Canada within four years of the date of the purchase
  • The foreign national is a student who has been enrolled full-time for at least two years from the date of purchase in an “approved institution” as outlined in Ontario Regulation 70/17 of the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities Act; or
  • The foreign national has legally worked full-time in Ontario for a continuous period of one year since the date of purchase or acquisition.

To qualify for a rebate, the foreign national must exclusively hold the property, or hold the property exclusively with his or her spouse. The property must also have been used as the foreign national's (and if applicable his or her spouse's) principal residence for the duration of the period.

The rebate will be paid with interest, calculated at the prescribed refund rate under the Land Transfer Tax Act.

Supporting documentation will be required to substantiate all applications for rebates.

Tax avoidance and offences

All transfers of land in Ontario are subject to audit.
Anti‑avoidance provisions will be enforced to ensure the NRST is reported and paid as required. This includes examining circumstances where Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada, as taxable trustees, hold property in trust for a foreign entity. This also includes preventing the use of multiple conveyances to avoid the NRST.

Failure to pay the NRST as required may result in a penalty, fine and/or imprisonment.

To faciliate the closing, Landmark Law may assist purchasers’ in payment of the NRST and application of the rebate to the Ministry of Finance.

Disclaimer: This article does not contain legal advice and only provides general information. It is not intended to replace advice from a qualified legal professional and should not be relied upon to make decisions. In all cases, contact your legal professional for advice on any matter referenced in this article before making decisions. Use of this article does not establish a lawyer-client relationship.

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