Langley East MLA Rich Coleman says businesses, especially farms in his constituency are facing major cost increases from the employer health tax. (Hansard TV)

B.C. health care payroll tax approved, takes effect Jan. 1

Employers calculating cost, including property taxes increases

The B.C. government’s employer health tax has been steered through the legislature with little notice, and employers with payrolls of $500,000 and larger are bracing for its impact.

Municipalities are preparing property tax increases to cover the payroll tax and Medical Services Plan premiums they will continue to pay at half rate next year. Finance Minister Carole James decided they would not get the exemption given to school districts, post-secondary schools and health authorities. Non-profits are exempted for annual payroll up to $1.5 million.

The tax takes effect Jan. 1, 2019 at 2.9 per cent on payroll between $500,000 and $1.5 million and 1.95 per cent on payroll amounts above $1.5 million. James said the 1.95 per cent rate is tied with Ontario for the lowest payroll health tax across other provinces, and emphasized that MSP premiums were reduced by half on Jan. 1, 2018.

Business leaders and opposition critics focused on the double taxation for 2019, and the extension of payroll tax to seasonal farm workers and others whose employers don’t pay MSP premiums.

RELATED: NDP tax increases adding up for B.C. residents

RELATED: B.C. Green MLA worried about payroll tax impact

Langley East MLA Rich Coleman told the legislature that municipalities in his area are looking at property tax increases between 2.5 and three per cent to cover the double cost next year. That means “probably about 90 per cent” of business leases will go up. One local farm that has operated for 40 years is facing a $100,000 increase in payroll costs for 2019, he said.

B.C. Green Party MLA Adam Olsen warned of the impact on large private employers in his Saanich North and the Islands constituency. An electrical contractor with 280 employees and a payroll of $20 million a year is looking at nearly a 10-fold increase in costs from 2017 to 2019, Olsen said.

James presented the payroll tax legislation at the same time as her government’s speculation tax on empty homes, which got most of the attention as she announced rate reductions demanded by B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

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

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP seizes illegal drugs, imitation handguns in Colwood

One man and one woman arrested for weapons-related offences

Rickter Scale: Keep safe, keep calm, keep your distance

The Rickter Scale is a regular column

Saanich man serving life sentence for double murder granted day parole

Derik Christopher Lord, convicted in 1992, fathered a child in custody

First Nations, remote communities need special attention in pandemic, Freeland says

Health-care workers, seniors, Indigenous Peoples some of people most at risk, health officials say

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

COVID-19: Social media use goes up as country stays indoors

Overall messaging is up more than 50 per cent over the last month

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Controversial Cowichan tiny house still in place after removal deadline

Cowichan Valley Regional District had ordered it removed by March 15

Call before you dig into spring projects during isolation: BC 1 Call

BC 1 Call gives free checks for utilities in the area of a desired outdoor project

B.C.’s intersection speed cameras putting more tickets in the mail

One Nanaimo location delayed after speed limit reduced

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

Most Read