B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks in the legislature, Feb. 26, 2020. (Hansard TV)

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks in the legislature, Feb. 26, 2020. (Hansard TV)

$5 billion fall tax bill too much for B.C. business, NDP told

PST, employer health tax, hotel tax may come due Sept. 30

B.C.’s budget deficit is currently pegged at a record $12.5 billion, as the NDP government faces the beginning of a wave of business closures due to the COVID-19.

That’s four times the size of the last big deficit in 2012, when the B.C. Liberal government had to buy its way out of a rejected harmonized sales tax deal with Ottawa. And current B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson has repeatedly proposed bringing it up to $15 billion, by forgiving the first 90 days of deferred taxes that Finance Minister Carole James has set for repayment by the end of September.

Collected but not remitted sales and hotel taxes, along with the government’s new employer health tax on payrolls, will total about $5 billion by fall, Wilkinson told the B.C. legislature July 15. Businesses who have been “running on fumes” for four months aren’t going to be able to repay it, he said.

James kept the door open to extending the repayment deadline, but has not commented on granting the tax holiday that Wilkinson has argued for in a series of letters to Premier John Horgan. The repayment schedule will be reviewed “well before we get to Sept. 30,” James said in question period.

“I’m afraid that kind of answer will be cold comfort to the thousands of businesses that are facing huge tax-deferred bills coming due this September, for which the minister refuses to provide an answer,” replied Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong, who preceded James as finance minister. “Families are facing work uncertainty or outright unemployment.”

RELATED: B.C. moves to allow three years of budget deficits

RELATED: B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending soars

The Business Council of B.C. has not endorsed the idea of a tax holiday, but it is calling for an extension of the payment deadline through 2020 and a staged repayment plan that could extend to the end of 2021.

“With a very slow economic recovery and the enormous damage inflicted on many economic sectors by the virus and the measures taken to contain it, we believe there is a strong argument for extending the 2020 tax deferrals until the end of the year,” BCBC chief policy officer Jock Finlayson told Black Press Media July 16. “We are not recommending an extension beyond that point.”

With an uncertain future for the COVID-19 pandemic, which has plunged B.C. government revenues as spending has ramped up, accumulated debt is also a key factor.

“From an accounting perspective, the government is not ‘losing revenue’ with tax deferrals,” Finlayson said. “ Rather, it receives the money due with a delay. The only cost to the treasury is the interest paid on the extra short-term debt – which today is substantially less than one per cent. So there is very little impact on the size of the deficit.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

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

Just Posted

Williams Lake’s Tyson Delay hoists a 600-pound deadlift — a 35-pound personal record for the lakecity strength athlete. (Photo submitted)
Lakecity duo take Shellshock 5 strength event by storm

A lakecity duo made their mark — all while helping fundraise for… Continue reading

(Mark Worthing photo - Black Press)
FOREST INK: The good, bad and ugly of forever chemicals

It was great for putting out aircraft fires but unfortunately also readily leached into groundwater

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, seed potatoes were in high demand, however, the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society has managed to help harvest and donate excess vegetables to local food banks. (Photo submitted)
DOWN TO EARTH: Veggies for all continues despite challenges

With a pandemic upon us, food security was top of mind

Photo submitted
Nesika students donate 2,000 pounds of fresh produce back into community

“Fresh to You” is a fundraising initiative for schools

Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison venture into the Sierra Nevada backcountry for some outlandish ski touring above 14,000 feet. (Christian Pondella photo)
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour goes virtual in lakecity

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is back, despite the global, novel coronavirus pandemic

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Most Read