Ian Mulgrew: Refugee says foreign buyers property tax discriminates

Will be interesting to see how the court rules. Pretty wealthy refugee given the value of the property tax:
An Iranian refugee who has lived in Canada for 27 years but only recently obtained permanent resident status wants to be reimbursed for the $1.32-million foreign buyers property tax he paid for his West Vancouver home.
In a B.C. Supreme Court statement of claim filed recently, Kourosh Bakhtiari, who has been described in documents as an aspiring terrorist decades ago for convictions on weapons charges and who once escaped custody using s rope made of dental floss, maintains that a 61-month delay in granting him permanent resident status violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, causing him duress and unnecessary expense.“His case shows how the foreign buyers property surtax in part harms a group of homeowners it is intended to help — long-term residents of B.C. without formal immigration status who wish to express their roots in this territory through home ownership,” veteran Vancouver lawyer Jason Gratl said.

Bakhtiari, who has no criminal record in Canada, was initially ruled inadmissible to the country by the Immigration and Refugee Board because of his crimes in the U.S., and was issued a conditional deportation order on April 9, 1996.

But he fought that and was designated a refugee on May 27, 1998.Ten years earlier, Bakhtiari was caught attempting to buy a Manhattan apartment while impersonating a State Department employee.

His briefcase contained weapons — including a 9 mm M-11 semi-automatic pistol, a silencer for the gun, a knife, grenades, and a garrote.

He and two other inmates reportedly later escaped from New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center using a rope fashioned out of 15 packages of dental floss braided together.

While recuperating in a New York hospital after being captured, he tried unsuccessfully to flee again.

Deported to Iran after a stint in a U.S. prison, Bakhtiari came to Canada and claimed political asylum on Dec. 10, 1995, fearing torture in Iran because in 1984 his father was captured, tortured, and killed for leading a revolt against the Islamic regime.

He applied to the immigration minister for permanent resident status in 1997, but was denied due to his U.S. convictions and his failure to pay a fine. Bakhtiari wrongly assumed that the fine would be paid from seized assets.On Dec. 15, 2011, more than 100 police officers converged on five locations, including Bakhtiari’s company offices, in a dramatic raid that netted more than $220,000 and four kilograms of methamphetamine.

Nevertheless, police apologized in 2017 for “Project Enape,” which targeted Bakhtiari’s firm for manufacturing legal pharmaceuticals and male hair-growth products allegedly because it was linked to organized crime. Civil proceedings in the case resulted in the forfeiture of seized cash.

In 2014, Bakhtiari again attempted to apply for permanent resident status. This application was again refused. He applied once more in January 2017.

Bakhtiari was finally granted permanent resident status this past Feb. 16, although no explanation was given for the delay.

He alleges the process took three times longer than average and was the product of gross negligence and bad faith by the minister.

During this waiting period, Bakhtiari, on July 1, 2021, was forced to pay $1.32 million in surtax on the June 14, 2019, purchase of a home registered in his company’s name on Groveland Road  in West Vancouver. He lives there.

He appealed, but on Feb. 29 was deemed ineligible for an exemption because he had not received permanent resident status within one year of the purchase — the process had taken 32 months.

The lawsuit, filed by Bakhtiari and his firm, Technocorp Venture Capital Inc., alleges the tax not only imposes an enormous financial burden on Bakhtiari but sends an implicit government-sponsored message that he is the kind of person who should be discouraged from owning a home in B.C.“The immigration minister’s delay in processing his application for permanent resident status contributed to the imposition of the surtax and loss of dignity, loss of social status, psychological distress and anxiety resulting from the imposition of the surtax and the implicit message of the surtax,” the lawsuit alleges.

Bakhtiari wants to be reimbursed for the surtax, the lien removed, the law amended, and paid damages.

“Discrimination against Bakhtiari, who has been a resident of British Columbia for 27 years, is contrary to the true intention of the legislature,” Gratl said.

He added that the purpose of the surtax is to promote home ownership by long-term residents and the one-year limit is arbitrary and unreasonable.

The attorney-general has told the court that persons in Bakhtiari’s position should not be subject to the surtax.

“The immigration minister’s unjustified delay of more than five years to process my client’s application for permanent resident status deprived him of an exemption from the 20-per-cent foreign buyer property surtax,” Gratl said.

“It might be tempting to believe that the wealthy are not entitled to civil liberties, but in law the right of equality belongs to everyone.”

The federal and provincial governments have roughly three weeks after they receive a copy of the suit to respond.

Source: Ian Mulgrew: Refugee says foreign buyers property tax discriminates

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: