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

Cathy Browne is very proud of her new front door. All the new doors are lovely and create an individual look for each room. Photo submitted
Courtenay’s Glacier View Lodge dressing up its doorways for residents

Glacier View Lodge’s vision of ‘feels like home’ has been enhanced this… Continue reading

Ginette Matthews shows off some of the wares at The Local Refillery. Photo by Femke Overmaat
Pandemic meant going digital quickly for Courtenay’s Local Refillery

Owner Ginette Matthews says system keep business open in its early months

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
Comox Valley RCMP asking public to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

Tom Lennox finds peace when he runs in the Cumberland Forest. He hasn’t missed a day in nearly a year. Photo supplied
Cumberland runner nears 366 consecutive days on the trails

Cumberland resident Tom Lennox has been running a minimum of five kilometres… Continue reading

Courtenay’s Ace Brewing Company’s Jet Fuel IPA was chosen for second place in the annual Canadian Brewing Awards. Photo submitted
Courtenay brewery takes silver medal at Canadian Brewing Awards

“It’s huge - they are the biggest awards in Canada that you can get (in the brewing industry).”

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

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

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Most Read