Provincial Support For Those Affected by COVID-19

Although the primary tax measures addressing the COVID-19 crisis have been implemented by the federal government in Ottawa, each province also has the opportunity to introduce provincial tax measures to support individuals and businesses operating in their province who are struggling because of COVID-19. This post will give an overview of the measures the British Columbia Ministry of Finance has implemented so far, and will compare those measures with those implemented by Ontario and Alberta.

British Columbia has announced that it will provide a $1,000 payment through the BC Emergency Benefit to any resident of the province who is unable to work as a result of the pandemic. The Ministry has stated that individuals receiving federal Employment Insurance or the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit will qualify for this payment. They have announced penalty free deferrals, and in some cases grants, for BC Hydro and ICBC bills. They have also announced that the Employer Health Tax (applicable only to employers with a BC payroll of $500,000 or higher) and any provincial sales taxes, carbon tax, motor fuel tax, or tobacco tax that becomes due after March 23, 2020 will not have to be paid until September 30, 2020. The School Tax payable on commercial properties will be reduced by 50% for 2020. And lastly, the province will delay the scheduled carbon tax increase but will still raise the BC Climate Action Tax Credit which provides an offset to the carbon tax paid by taxpayers.

Ontario has proposed to double the Employer Health Tax exemption to exclude the tax on the first $1 million of their payroll. They will not charge any interest or penalties for most unpaid provincially administered taxes until August 31, 2020.  Employers can delay remittances to the Workplace Safety Insurance board by six months and remittances of education property tax payable to school boards by ninety days. They have also postponed the 2021 property tax reassessment, so all property taxes will be based on the same valuation date that was used in 2020.

Alberta has announced that businesses can delay payment of corporate income tax and the tourism levy to Alberta until August 31, 2020 without accruing any interest or penalties. The Worker’s Compensation Board premium can be deferred until 2021, and for small and medium businesses 50% of this this premium can be excused. Education property tax rates payable by businesses and individuals will remain at 2019 levels. Lastly, utility bills may be deferred by ninety days by those who have faced financial hardship due to COVID-19.

While every province and territory has announced some tax measures responding to the COVID-19 crisis, no province has taken a uniform approach. Therefore, it is important to stay up to date on the tax measures being implemented by the province in which you are located or your business is operating. At Boughton Law Corporation, we are actively advising individuals and corporations on the federal and provincial programs that they should be aware of during the COVID-19 crisis. Don’t hesitate to reach out to members of our tax team if you have any questions for one of our lawyers.