Navigating the Property Maze: Taxes and More When Selling or Buying a House in Ontario

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The Homeowner’s Handbook: Tackling Taxes and Legalities in Ontario Real Estate

Navigating the Property Maze – Are you puzzled about the taxes involved in selling or buying a house in Ontario? Unravel the complexities, from HST to lawyer fees, with our comprehensive guide on property transactions in Ontario.

Navigating the Property Maze: Taxes and More 

How much tax do you pay when you sell a house in Ontario?

Selling a house in Ontario? Brace yourself, as taxes await. But fret not; understanding the tax breakdown can help in smart financial planning. In Ontario, when you sell your primary residence, you typically don’t pay capital gains tax. But, if it’s a secondary property or an investment, the story changes.

Primary Residence Exemption

For many homeowners in Ontario, the sale of their primary residence is tax-free, thanks to the Primary Residence Exemption. This means if your home has been your primary residence for every year you’ve owned it, you won’t pay tax on the profit. But remember, if you’ve rented out a part of your home, that portion might be subject to capital gains tax.

Capital Gains Tax on Secondary Properties

If you’re selling a second home, cottage, or an investment property, you’ll likely need to pay capital gains tax on any profit made. This tax isn’t on the total selling price but on the gain since the time of purchase. More on this in the next section.

Navigating the Property Maze

How to calculate capital gains tax on sale of property in Ontario?

The capital gains tax can sound daunting. But with a tad bit of math magic, it’s manageable. To calculate:

  1. Find out the property’s Adjusted Cost Base (ACB). This includes the purchase price, plus any renovations or improvements.
  2. Subtract the ACB from the selling price to determine your capital gain.
  3. Only 50% of this capital gain is taxable.
  4. The taxable portion is then added to your annual income and taxed at your marginal tax rate.

For instance, let’s say you bought a property for $200,000 and sold it for $400,000, your capital gain would be $200,000. Only $100,000 (50% of the capital gain) would be taxable.

Navigating the Property Maze: Taxes and More 

Do you pay HST when selling a house in Ontario?

Good news, folks! When selling a house in Ontario, you don’t typically pay Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) on the sale price of a used residential property. However, HST might creep in, especially with new homes or substantially renovated ones. Real estate services and legal services are also subject to HST.

Do you pay tax on a home purchase in Ontario?

Buying a house isn’t just about the listed price. Taxes do come into play. In Ontario, buyers don’t pay HST on resale homes, but they do for new homes. Yet, there are rebates available for those new home purchases. Apart from HST, there’s also the Land Transfer Tax – both on the provincial and, if you’re in Toronto, the municipal level.

How much are lawyer fees when buying a house in Ontario?

Ah, lawyer fees, the often overlooked expense in the home-buying process. In Ontario, lawyer fees for property transactions typically range between $500 to $2,500, excluding disbursements and taxes. This fee covers services like drafting the title deed, conducting a title search, and registering the property. It’s always wise to get a detailed estimate up front to avoid any surprises.

Who pays the sales tax on a house in Ontario?

In Ontario, the buyer typically shoulders the responsibility of paying the sales tax on a property. This includes the Land Transfer Tax. Remember, while the seller might not be directly paying these, they might factor it into their asking price, especially with new builds that have HST implications.

Navigating the Property Maze

How do I transfer a property title to a family member in Ontario?

Transferring property within the family is common, especially as an estate planning strategy or a generous gift. Here’s a simplified process:

  1. Determine the Type of Transfer: Is it a sale, gift, or inheritance?
  2. Hire a Lawyer: They’ll guide you through legal intricacies.
  3. Draft a Deed of Gift or Transfer: This document outlines the specifics.
  4. Pay the Land Transfer Tax: Even if it’s a gift, this tax might apply.
  5. Register the Transfer: The final step to make it official.

Do you need a lawyer to transfer property in Ontario?

While it’s not mandatory, it’s highly recommended. A lawyer ensures the transfer adheres to legal standards, protects your interests, and simplifies complex processes. They’ll handle paperwork, manage potential disputes, and provide peace of mind.

How much does it cost to transfer a house title in Ontario?

Apart from potential lawyer fees, the primary cost is the Land Transfer Tax. The amount varies based on property value and location. Additionally, there might be other administrative fees. It’s wise to budget between 1.5% to 4% of the property’s price for the entire transfer process.

Can you gift property to a family member in Ontario?

Absolutely! Gifting property is a generous gesture. However, while you can bypass the usual sales process, certain responsibilities like the Land Transfer Tax and potential capital gains implications (for the giver) remain. Always consult a financial advisor to understand the full implications.

Navigating the Property Maze: Taxes and More When Selling or Buying a House in Ontario


How do tax exemptions work when selling a property in Ontario?

Tax exemptions, especially the Primary Residence Exemption, reduce or eliminate capital gains tax when selling your primary home in Ontario.

Are there any rebates for first-time homebuyers in Ontario?

Yes, first-time homebuyers can benefit from the Land Transfer Tax rebate, easing their financial burden.

What’s the difference between capital gains tax and HST in property transactions?

Capital gains tax applies to the profit made from selling a property, while HST concerns the sale price, typically for new or substantially renovated properties.

How are lawyer fees determined for property transactions?

Fees vary based on the complexity of the transaction, location, and the lawyer’s expertise. It’s essential to get a detailed quote beforehand.

Is there a way to reduce the Land Transfer Tax in Ontario?

First-time homebuyers might qualify for rebates. Additionally, transferring property between close family members might offer some relief.

Can I avoid taxes by gifting my property to my children?

While gifting might avoid some taxes, it doesn’t bypass them all. There might still be Land Transfer Taxes or capital gains implications to consider.


The world of property transactions in Ontario, with its myriad of taxes and fees, might seem like a maze. But with the right knowledge and perhaps a pinch of expert guidance, you can navigate it with ease. Whether buying, selling, or gifting, it’s essential to be well-informed to make the best financial decisions. Happy house hunting or selling!

*This article is intended to provide a general guide for home buyers in Ontario, but it does not replace professional advice tailored to individual needs and circumstances.

Navigating the Property Maze: Taxes and More When Selling or Buying a House in Ontario

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