Tax Profits On Rich People's Homes, Nobel Laureate Urges Canada
Soaring house prices are widening wealth inequality, Stiglitz says.

Canada should consider taxing uninhabited houses as well as profits from the sale of high-priced homes to reduce the risk of a housing bubble, Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says.

Stiglitz, a former head of the World Bank and current adviser to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, made his comments in an interview with BNN on Wednesday.

“One of the policies that would actually be good, not only for [reducing] inequality but for overall economic performance, is a tax on capital gains on wealthier homes, higher priced real estate [as well as] taxes on these uninhabited homes,” he said.

Canada Revenue Agency already levies a capital gains tax on the profits made on sold homes, but has an exemption if the seller lived in the home for every year they owned it.

Stiglitz has been concerned for some time soaring house prices in Toronto and Vancouver — as well as in certain cities all over the world — are increasing wealth inequality and diminishing ownership opportunities for younger generations.

In an interview last year, he called for a “very progressive" property tax that would see owners of multi-million-dollar homes pay higher property taxes than others. He suggested the revenue be used to subsidize affordable housing.

Stiglitz also addressed the phenomenon of investors buying homes and leaving them empty on the expectation they will rise in value. A recent study found one in 10 Vancouver condos are unoccupied, exacerbating a shortage of housing in the city.

“It’s not good to have the centre of cities emptied … forcing ordinary citizens to move way out to the suburbs,” Stiglitz told BNN. “We should encourage more economically integrated cities, and this is doing exactly the opposite.”

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