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All about the not-so-welcome tax

August 10, 2020

Whether it’s your first condo, a family home, or an investment, buying property is an expensive undertaking. From the down payment and closing costs, to budgeting for monthly expenses, it takes a fair amount of financial planning and preparation, sometimes years in advance. Aside from the down payment, one of the largest expenses buyers will encounter when closing on a property is the welcome tax.

What is the welcome tax?

What we commonly call the welcome tax is actually a tax on the land transfer of the property in question. The term welcome tax is often sneered at by buyers, as let’s face it there’s nothing welcoming about receiving a bill for several thousand dollars. The term actually has nothing to do with hospitality; rather, it’s named after the Quebec Minister of Municipal Affairs who instituted it in 1992: Jean Bienvenue (whose last name translates to welcome in English).

Who is responsible for the welcome tax?

This tax on real estate transactions carried out within a certain territory is a source of income for the municipality in question. Meaning if you buy a home in Kirkland, for example, the welcome tax is owed to the City of Kirkland. The buyer of the property is solely responsible for the transfer tax; it is in no way a shared responsibility between buyer and seller.

How is the welcome tax calculated?

The welcome tax is calculated using a tiered system, whereby different brackets are taxed at different rates. In Montreal, there is an added surtax on the transfer duty compared to the rest of Quebec. The rates are as follows:

Tax rate Value tier
0.5% of the first $51,700
1.0% of the next $50,001 to $258,600
1.5% of the next $258,600
Montreal Only  
1.5% of the next $258,600 to $517,100
2.0% of the next $500,001 to $1,034,200
2.5% of the portion exceeding $1,034,200

Are there any exemptions?

There are a handful of exemptions and technicalities that exclude buyers from having to pay the welcome tax, but they’re few and far between. Some of the exceptions include:

  • When a property is worth less than $5,000
  • When a property transaction is made between direct relatives, other than siblings. Meaning a transfer of ownership from son to mother, or mother to grandfather, for example, would qualify as an exemption.
  • Additionally, in June, 2018 the City of Montreal launched a program to reimburse a portion of the welcome tax for buyers who meet specific criteria

That said, the vast majority of buyers will be required to pay a welcome tax on any property purchase.

If you have any questions about the welcome tax, or how to plan and budget ahead of time for purchasing a property, Orbis’ experienced mortgage brokers are here to help prepare you for the transaction. Contact us today to get started!

Call us today to get started.

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