Last week we wrote about the Government of Canada’s response to the growing effects of COVID-19 on Canada’s economy. Today’s article discusses the latest measures announced by the Province of BC, BC Hydro and the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.

We hope you find this information useful and that you will continue to follow RHN CPA’s updates on COVID-19.

Filing and Payment Deadlines Extended for BC Provincial Taxes
Effective March 23, 2020, the Province of B.C. has extended the filing and payment deadlines for the following taxes until September 30, 2020:

  • Employer health tax (for businesses with a payroll of over $500,000)
  • Provincial sales tax (including municipal and regional district tax)
  • Carbon tax
  • Motor fuel tax
  • Tobacco tax(property tax classes 4, 5 and 6)

Reduced School Tax Rates for Businesses
School tax rates for commercial properties will be reduced by 50% for the 2020 tax year. This includes properties in class 4 (major industry), class 5 (light industry) and class 6 (business and other).

Enhanced B.C. Climate Action Tax Credit
The Province has announced an additional one-time payment will be made in July 2020 on top of the regular climate action tax credit amount for qualifying individuals and families. The previously scheduled credit increase effective July 2020 remains the same.

Postponement of Changes Announced in 2020 BC Budget
The following tax changes announced in the 2020 BC Budget will be postponed until further notice:

  • Eliminating the PST exemption for carbonated beverages that contain sugar, natural sweeteners or artificial sweeteners
  • Expanded registration requirements for Canadian sellers of goods, along with Canadian and foreign sellers of software and telecommunication services
  • BC Provincial Carbon tax rates will remain at their current levels until further notice. The tax measure announced in Budget 2020 aligning the carbon tax rates with the federal carbon pricing backstop is also postponed until further notice.

B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers
A new B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a tax-free $1,000 payment to British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected by the outbreak. The benefit will be a one-time payment for British Columbians who receive federal Employment Insurance (EI), or the new federal Emergency Care Benefit or Emergency Support Benefit as a result of COVID-19 impacts.

This includes workers who have been laid-off, who are sick or quarantined, parents with sick children, parents who stay at home from work while child care centres and schools are closed, and those caring for sick family members, such as an elderly parent.

The workers can be EI-eligible and non-EI eligible, such as the self-employed. The benefit will be paid to B.C. residents, in addition to their federal income supports.

ICBC Allowing Deferrals on Insurance Payments
The Insurance Corp. of B.C. is allowing for monthly vehicle insurance payments to be deferred up to 90 days. Customers on a monthly Autoplan payment plan, who are facing financial challenges due to COVID-19, can defer their payment for up to 90 days with no penalty.

Customers can use the ICBC online resource tool to apply for deferrals or call 604-661-2723 or 1-800-665-6442 to discuss payment options. The online resource tools for payment deferral requests can be found here:

BC Hydro Deferrals and Grants
BC Hydro’s COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program provides residential and commercial customers the option to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty. Customers are encouraged to call their customer service team at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) to discuss bill payment options.

Residential customers facing temporary financial hardship and possible disconnection of their service due to job loss, illness, or loss of a family member may also be eligible for BC Hydro’s Customer Crisis Fund, which provides access to grants of up to $600 to pay their bills.

This post has been prepared for general information purposes. It is not advice. The information presented may not fit your unique situation, please consult one of our trusted business advisors at RHN CPA for further clarification and interpretation of your circumstances.