Understanding Land Transfer Tax in Canada: What You Need to Know

Among the panic of costs that come with buying a home, like realtor commissions, moving costs, and new furniture, there’s a lesser-known yet significant fee: the Land Transfer Tax

However, many buyers are unfamiliar with how it operates. The land transfer tax is a fee imposed when property ownership changes hands. This expense can catch buyers off guard if they’re not well-informed. Whether you purchase a house, condominium, or land anywhere in Canada, excluding Alberta and Saskatchewan, you’ll experience the imposition of the land transfer tax. We are here to help you with the essential details, from provincial differences to potential exemptions and strategies to navigate this fiscal aspect.

What are land transfer taxes?

The land transfer tax is a mandatory fee enforced by the government whenever a property or land changes ownership from one party to another. It’s based on the property’s value or sale price and is crucial to the real estate transaction process. The exact amount differs depending on the property’s location and worth, and it’s a non-negotiable expense involved in buying or selling real estate. Across Canada, each province implements its version of a land transfer tax under different names. For instance, in Quebec, it’s known as a “welcome tax,” while Alberta and Saskatchewan impose a “land title fee.” These taxes differ regionally, with some municipalities charging significantly higher fees than others. However, first-time homebuyers can receive partial or complete refunds on their land transfer tax payments. The reward is meant to assist people just starting in the real estate industry by reducing the cost of purchasing a property.

When is the land transfer tax paid?

You need to pay the land transfer tax as soon as you take possession of the property. With the property deed being transferred to your name on the day of closing the deal, your lawyer will begin making the payment arrangements. The Land Transfer Tax is a one-time payment made upon the transfer of property ownership. This means you’ll only pay it during the purchase or sale of a property, and it won’t recur annually.

How do I avoid paying Land Transfer Tax?

In Canada, the Land Transfer Tax is a mandatory fee imposed by provincial governments or municipalities upon the transfer of property ownership. Paying the Land Transfer Tax may be unavoidable. You can qualify for full or partial reimbursement of the Land Transfer Tax linked to your purchase as a First-Time Homebuyer in Ontario. Meeting specific criteria is essential to qualify for this rebate:

  • You need to be at least 18 years old.
  • You must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada.
  • The home you’re purchasing must become your principal residence within nine months of the closing date.
  • You must not have previously owned any other property anywhere.
  • If you’re married, your spouse must also not have owned any property globally during your marriage.

In Ontario, you may transfer property to your spouse while going through a separation process without paying Land Transfer Tax as long as the transaction satisfies one of the three requirements listed below:

  • When a court order directs the transfer.
  • The transfer has been approved in writing by both sides.
  • The only thing taken into account is taking over any existing payments on the property, such as a mortgage.

First-time home buyers rebates based on provinces


Region Ontario Toronto British Columbia
Maximum Rebate $4,000 $4,475 $8,000
Maximum Home Value Allowed(LTT) $368,333 $400,000 $500,000
Partial Refund Availability 50% refund when the spouse doesn’t qualify. 50% refund when the spouse doesn’t qualify. Partial refund for houses valued between $500,001 and $524,999.

Note: As per the Ontario land transfer tax rates, the refund extends to cover the entire taxed amount on properties valued up to $368,000. However, for homes exceeding $368,000, buyers can receive a maximum rebate of $4,000 and are responsible for the remaining Land Transfer Tax (LTT) balance. To qualify for this refund, you must apply within 18 months following the home purchase.

How is land transfer tax calculated?

Land transfer taxes operate on a percentage basis linked to the property’s estimated value, which closely aligns with the purchase price. Like income tax brackets that impose a greater tax rate on higher income levels, the percentage you’ll pay is often larger for more costly residences. Let’s assume you have a property worth $600,000 in Ontario. In Ontario, the calculation of the land transfer tax follows specific brackets:

  • For the initial $55,000 of the property’s value, the tax rate is 0.5%. The tax would be $(55,000 * 0.5%) = $275 for this portion.
  • For the amount above $55,000 and up to $250,000, the tax rate is 1%. The next $195,000 ($250,000 – $55,000), the tax would amount to $(195,000 * 1%) = $1,950.
  • For the amount above $250,000 and up to $400,000, the tax rate increases to 1.5%. The next $150,000 ($400,000 – $250,000), the tax would be $(150,000 * 1.5%) = $2,250.
  • For any amount above $400,000, the tax rate becomes 2%. Considering the final $200,000 ($600,000 – $400,000), the tax would amount to $(200,000 * 2%) = $4,000.

Summing up these tax amounts: $(275 + 1,950 + 2,250 + 4,000) = $8,475 is the total land transfer tax for a property valued at $600,000 in Ontario.

Note: The land transfer tax percentage is set at 2.5% for properties valued above two million dollars in Ontario.

The Land Transfer Tax differs from a Sales Tax.

The Land Transfer Tax and sales tax differ, especially when buying a new property. The Land Transfer Tax is a one-time payment paid after finalizing the property purchase, a common step for most homebuyers. Your attorney will cover the closing expenses. An invoice usually arrives within a month after closing if the tax is paid later. In contrast, sales tax, a standard charge on goods and services, is calculated on the purchase price. Understanding these differences is essential when budgeting for a property purchase, as they represent distinct financial considerations in the home-buying process.

The Bottom Line

Understanding the Land Transfer Tax in Canada might seem complex, but it’s a critical part of buying property. The Land Transfer Tax is an inevitable part of property buying. Being informed empowers you to make sound financial decisions. It’s about navigating the system to your advantage, ensuring a smoother journey into homeownership. To determine the land transfer tax specific to your property’s value and province, use our free Land Transfer Tax Calculator for accurate calculations.

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