Are You a Foreign Buyer of Ontario Real Estate?

Expect to pay extra tax to discourage real estate speculators. Foreign buyers in Ontario are subject to a non-resident speculation tax (NRST). You’ll get a break during the COVID-19 state of emergency, but only on residency requirements.

Provincial Tax Makes Housing More Affordable

Property speculation drives up the cost of housing, making it less affordable for GTA (Greater Toronto Area) residents. Foreign buyers who snap up deals to take advantage of favorable currency exchange rates, then flip for profit keep the real estate market churning. The GTA taxes foreign speculators so locals can afford housing.

Who Pays Speculation Tax in Ontario

Foreign buyers who purchase a home or part interest in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (from Simcoe, Brant and Peterborough Counties to Niagara Region and points in between) owe a 15% NRST tax to the Province of Ontario. Ontario realtors can provide maps of affected communities. The tax applies to anyone who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident (PR) or has lost their PR status and to taxable trustees, foreign corporations or foreign entities.

Define a Taxable Trustee

You are a taxable trustee if you administer a trust that has:

  • at least one trustee that is a foreign entity, or
  • a foreign entity that is a beneficiary but not a trustee. 

Mutual fund, real estate investment or SIFT Trusts are not eligible. All purchasers in a taxable trust are 100% liable for the NRST, regardless of their interest or if they are Canadian citizens or PRs. Contact an Ontario real estate lawyer if you have questions about your trust. 

Define a Foreign Corporation in Canada

Corporations are considered foreign if they:

  • are incorporated outside Canada, or
  • are incorporated in Canada but not listed on a Canadian stock exchange and controlled by a foreign national or corporation not incorporated in Canada.

Axess Law’s real estate lawyer can advise you on your corporate status.

How the Ontario Non-Resident Speculation Tax Works

The NRST only applies to properties with one to six family residences, not raw land. Condos, townhouses and multi-unit properties such as duplexes to six-plexes qualify. The tax is retroactive for sales after April 21, 2017. It is separate from the land transfer tax and if you buy multiple condos, you pay tax on every unit. 

Ontario Real Estate Exempt from Speculation Taxes

Rental properties with more than six units and agricultural, commercial or industrial land are exempt from speculation taxes. The tax only applies to residential parts of a property. Say you buy a $895,000 resort with four cottages you rent to vacationers. You live full-time in a bungalow on the property. NRST would be due on the value of the bungalow, but not the resort or cottages.

Rebates for Foreign Nationals Who Live in Their Home

Even if you are charged NRST, you may qualify for a rebate as long as you live in the home most of the time. Here’s how it works:

  1. You buy an Ontario home.
  2. You move in within 60 days of purchase and live in the home. The home is your principal residence in Canada.
  3. You apply for the NRST rebate using the Ontario Land Transfer Tax Refund/Rebate form.

Who Can Get a Rebate

  1. Foreign nationals who become PRs within four years of buying a Golden Horseshoe property.
  2. International students enrolled in 60% of a full course load (40% if you have disabilities) at an Ontario institution for at least two years after purchase. Approved institutions are listed in section 8 of Ontario Regulation 70/17, Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities Act.
  3. Foreign nationals with a valid work permit employed full-time in Ontario (at least 30 hours a week or 1,560 paid hours) for 12 months or more since the purchase. 
  4. You must hold the property yourself or with your spouse.

Who is a Spouse for NRST

Your spouse is the person you are married to or have lived with in a common-law relationship for at least three years or have natural or adoptive children with.

Avoid Complicating Your Purchase

Be cautious about purchasing properties with others. You may lose the NRST rebate unless all purchasers are nominees or protected persons. For instance, you purchase a home to live in with your spouse, who is a foreign national. You are a Canadian citizen, PR, nominee under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program or protected person (refugee). Her brother, who is also a foreign national but not a PR, nominee or protected person, has a part interest in the home and lives with you. You and your spouse would have qualified for the rebate if you bought the home together, but her brother does not. Since all purchasers must be eligible, you must pay NRST.

Deadlines for NRST Rebates (Except PRs)

Foreign buyers have up to four years from the day the tax is due to apply for a rebate. A foreign national who becomes a Canadian PR (permanent resident) must apply within 90 days of receiving PR status (a maximum of four years and 90 days). 

COVID-19 Impact on Tax Due Dates

Ontario has changed the date NRST is due to account for foreign buyers caught up in COVID-19 travel and other restrictions. Buyers who have purchased a home since January 17, 2020 have extra time to meet the NRST residency requirements. Instead of occupying a home within 60 days of purchase, the due date now is 60 days from the day the Ontario state of emergency is lifted.

Mortgage Refinancing Legal Services  

Axess Law Ontario can finalize your mortgage refinance via video call anywhere in Ontario. Make an online video conference appointment at your convenience, 7 days a week, day or evening. Dial toll-free to 1-877-552-9377 or 647-479-0118 in Toronto or use our online booking form. Licensed real estate lawyers are available in person at our Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Ottawa, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices.

Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s real estate law services.