Flips? Beware!


March 25, 2019 Real Estate and Construction

Real estate flips: watch out for flops! Particularly when you have done major renovations before reselling.

In general, the sale of a used residential immovable is not taxable, but beware, there are exceptions to this rule that could cost you dearly and substantially reduce your profit.

Anyone who buys a residential property in order to carry out major renovations and then resell it may be required to remit the applicable sales tax (GST and QST) amounts, even if he did not add the sales tax to his sale price when he sold the property to his buyer.

Ultimately, major renovations entail the payment of taxes (GST and QST) on the renovated immovable’s market value, even if the seller is not a GST/QST registrant.  

The tax authorities define a major renovation as a “renovation or transformation of an existing building, to the extent that all, or nearly all (90% or more), of it has been removed or replaced, except for the foundation, exterior walls, interior load-bearing walls, floors, roof, and stairs.”

It is, therefore, important to be careful: a seller who had done major renovations on an immovable that he then sold at its fair market value for $300,000, without having added the applicable taxes, will have to remit $44,925 to the tax authorities as GST/QST (the GST/QST on the $300,000 sale price), in addition to the taxes he will have to pay on his gains (profit) from reselling the immovable.

This can have a significant impact on the profitability of the endeavour.

Don’t consider your renovations “major”? The tax authorities may be of a different opinion. In order to protect yourself, be sure to document the work carried out, namely with before and after photos, and by keeping the plans and specifications, bids, and invoices.

This bulletin provides general comments on recent developments in the law. It does not constitute and should not viewed as legal advice. No legal action should be taken on the basis of the information contained herein.

Back to the list of publications - Real Estate and Construction