A first purchaser enters into a purchase and sale agreement for a new house with a builder (Builder A) and pays a deposit of $10,000 at that time. The first purchaser does not make any further payments to Builder A. The first purchaser subsequently assigns the agreement to an assignee purchaser for $15,000. If the sale of the interest in the house from the first purchaser to the assignee purchaser is subject to GST/HST, tax applies to the full $15,000. This is the case even if the assignment agreement identifies that the $10,000 is a recovery of the deposit that the first purchaser paid to Builder A.
All of the relevant factors surrounding entering into a purchase and sale agreement should be considered in determining the primary purpose for a person's acquisition of an interest in a new house.
The following factors may indicate that, for GST/HST purposes, a person entered into a purchase and sale agreement for the primary purpose of selling an interest in the new house or the house itself. The factors are not listed in any particular order and there is no intent to weigh one more heavily than another.
The person offers to sell their interest in the house or takes other actions to attract buyers before, or while, the house is under construction.
The person finances the purchase of the house by a short-term mortgage, or an open mortgage that can be paid off without penalty, rather than by a long-term or closed mortgage.
Financing of the house is beyond the person's means and that person is relying on the increased value and saleability of the house, or an interest in the house, in a rising housing market.
The person is an individual and their stated intention to occupy the house as a place of residence is not supported by the circumstances of the case. For example, an individual has a family of four and enters into a purchase and sale agreement for a one-bedroom condo unit where they are not contemplating any changes in family circumstances.
The person's pattern of activity is such that their occupancy of the house does not have the qualities or characteristics of being permanent. For example, the person purchases more than one house at or around the same time. This factor may be given extra weight where the person has previously entered into a purchase and sale agreement for purposes of selling the house or an interest in the house. There are no outward indicators to support a contrary primary intention (i.e., an intention contrary to an intention of resale). For example, an individual is selling a condo unit, one or more of the above factors are present, there are no physical actions or evidence that the individual's primary intention was to live in the condo unit, use it as a vacation home, or rent it to another individual for use as their place of residence, and no evidence that the sale of the condo unit was triggered by some unforeseen event.
In order for the acquisition of an interest in a new house to be for one of the primary purposes described in the section "Primary purpose: selling the house or an interest in the house or leasing the house in certain circumstances", the intention to sell the house or an interest in it, or to lease the house in the manner described in that section, must have existed at the time of acquiring the interest. Nonetheless, the intention at the time of acquisition may be demonstrated over a period of time.
If an individual acquired an interest in the house for the primary purpose of using it as a place of residence, the person is not considered to be a builder of the type described in this info sheet even if, at a later point in time, the person sells the house or an interest in the house. However, the person may still be a builder if the person meets one of the other definitions of that term as described in GST/HST Memorandum 19.2.
The following examples illustrate when a person may or may not be a builder of a new house.