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

Sledder dies near Fernie

Fernie Search and Rescue was tasked by the RCMP to respond to a sledder in medical distress

GALLERY: Elkford goes wild for winter

Big turnout to annual Winter in the Wild festival in Elkford

Fernie Mountain Film Festival this weekend

The Radicals, This Mountain Life to headline Fernie Mountain Film Festival Feb. 22-24

City of Fernie poised to approve $19.3m loan for multi-purpose centre

The City must prove it can pay its portion of the $72.5 million centre if successful for a grant

Elk Valley mines boost overall Teck production

Fording River, Elkview achieve record fourth quarter; Fording, Greenhills have bumper year

VIDEO: Iconic ‘snow cone’ takes shape at B.C. park near Clearwater

Snow cone forming at Wells Gray Provincial Park one that would make Disney’s Queen Elsa proud

Kootenay man dies in crash near Sparwood

Accident occurred last night east of Sparwood, RCMP appealing for witnesses

POLL: Are Wildlife Detection Systems in the Elk Valley working?

In 2016, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) installed two wildlife… Continue reading

Sparwood zoning bylaw review underway

This is the first comprehensive review of the bylaw since it was adopted in 1981

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

UPDATE: Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

Most Read