B.C.’s carbon tax is the highest in Canada, collected by businesses along with motor fuel tax, provincial sales tax and hotel tax. (Black Press Media)

B.C. VOTES 2020: Businesses now owe $6 billion in deferred tax payments

COVID-19 relief from remittance to province ends with September

Provincial tax payments estimated at $6 billion come due for struggling B.C. businesses as of Sept. 30, with temporary deferrals on submitting collected provincial sales tax, carbon tax, motor fuel tax, tobacco tax and hotel tax having run out as the COVID-19 pandemic carries on.

Businesses pleaded for more time to pay, but B.C. NDP leader John Horgan says the temporary deferral has worked, and its intent was to take administrative pressure off small businesses, not to forgive what is owed.

“The objective of deferring that was to not put another burden onto small businesses to do their regular remittances,” Horgan said at a campaign stop in Surrey Sept. 30. “The money is there, the money will be transferred. The objective was to take the pressure off businesses and I think we accomplished that.”

As the coronavirus pandemic dragged on into summer, the Business Council of B.C. recommended the deferred payments be extended to the end of 2020. Former finance minister Carole James considered that option and rejected it, along with a proposal by the B.C. Liberals to waive the payments entirely for up to 90 days this spring and summer.

James did extend the instalment payment deadline for the NDP government’s new employer health tax through to January, as employers adjusted to a new payroll cost to replace revenue lost when Medical Services Plan premiums were phased out this year.

RELATED: Board of Trade fears ‘second wave’ of business closures

RELATED: Business Council calls for more time to pay B.C. taxes

Horgan pointed out the key difference between those taxes that guided the government’s choice.

“The PST, the carbon tax are taxes that are collected directly from consumers,” Horgan said. “Those are taxes that consumers pay. The employer health tax is a tax that employers pay.”

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said the reality for tourism and other businesses is that they need more temporary assistance.

“In Victoria the hotels are empty,” Wilkinson said at a campaign stop in Port Moody Sept. 30. “The souvenir shops are going broke.”

Wilkinson was in Port Moody Sept. 30, promoting a much larger tax break in the form of eliminating PST for an entire year if he is elected premier on Oct. 24. He wants to bring it back the following year at a three per cent rate, which he says would leave $1,700 more in the pocket of the average family of four. That would add an estimated $8 billion to provincial deficits that are headed for nearly $13 billion this fiscal year without the PST break.

Business Council chief policy officer Jock Finlayson recommended to Horgan’s government that the tax payments should be deferred to the end of 2020 but no further. It amounts to a loan to struggling business with little impact on the deficit because interest rates are at historic lows.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bruce McLean, 91, has published his first novel, The Manana Treehouse, which is inspired by his wife’s experience with Alzheimer’s. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
91-year-old Saanich man publishes first novel based on wife’s Alzheimer’s experience

Former journalist Bruce McLean ‘on cloud nine’ after making fiction debut

View Royal Coun. John Rogers stands next to an unearthed home heating oil tank. As a way to prevent environmental disasters, he is lobbying for a provincial registration system and mandatory inspection for all above-ground tanks, as well as a requirement to remove any underground tanks not used for a prescribed period of time. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Efforts to regulate Greater Victoria home heating oil tanks continues

View Royal councillor part of movement to identify old tanks, prevent catastrophic leaks

Residents enjoy the annual Halloween Trick or Treat on Oak Bay Avenue. (Robert Harwood Photo)
Oak Bay to host series of Winter Markets

No Halloween, Christmas events in Oak Bay Village

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

Drive up voting is popular with Victoria-Swan Lake voters at the Craigflower elementary polling station. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Drive up voting popular at Craigflower polling station in Victoria-Swan Lake

Nearly 13,000 mail-in ballots were requested in the Victoria-Swan Lake riding

(Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay)
QUIZ: A celebration of colour

Fall in British Columbia is a time to enjoy a spectrum of vivid colours

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson,  BC NDP leader John Horgan and BC Green leader Sonia Furstenau. (File)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Climate change and sustainability promises from the parties

Snap election has led to a short campaign; here’s the lowdown on the platforms

Most Read