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.

Just Posted

Police stay quiet on downtown fire investigation

The fire at Victoria’s Plaza Hotel was deemed suspicious on May 14

Cyclists and drivers take to the streets Wednesday morning in first official Bike to Work Week celebration

The 25th annual Greater Victoria Bike to Work Week kicks off the followingMonday, May 27

Police arrest jewellery thieves in same building they allegedly stole from

More than $6,000 worth of jewellery was recovered

Coastline serves up a feast of fiddlers in Oak Bay

Local Juno Award winner musical director for ensemble

High of 21 C for Wednesday

Plus your weekend forecast

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Sitting and sleeping on downtown sidewalks could net $100 fine in Penticton

The measure, which still requires final approval, would be enforced between May and Sept. 30

B.C. man killed in logging accident ‘would have done anything for anyone’

Wife remembers 43-year old Petr Koncek, father of two children

Ottawa spending $24.5M to research on health benefits, risks of pot use

$390,000 will fund two cannabis public awareness

Crackdown on money laundering does not include federal public inquiry: minister

An independent report commissioned concluded $7.4 billion was laundered in B.C. last year

Trudeau’s action plan on climate change brings B.C. politician out of retirement

Terry Lake, a former B.C. health minister, is running for federal office in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo

Most Read