BC government’s COVID-19 Action Plan
updated May 4, 2020
As part of British Columbia’s COVID-19 Action Plan, the provincial government has announced resources available to small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. The government’s most recent announcements and resources can be found here and here.
COVID-19 support service launched for BC businesses
A new B.C. Business COVID-19 Support Service will serve as a single point of contact for businesses throughout the province looking for information on resources available during the COVID-19 pandemic. Advisors are available Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1 833 254-4357. Inquiries can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, or raised on the live-chat feature available on SBBC’s dedicated website.
Deferred and reduced tax payments
The B.C. government has announced it is reducing most commercial property tax bills for the 2020 tax year. This step reduces the school property tax rate for commercial properties to achieve an average 25% reduction in the total property tax bill for most businesses and now includes classes 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 as part of B.C.’s COVID-19 Action Plan. Late payment penalties for all of the above classes are postponed to October 1, 2020.
Effective immediately, BC is extending filing and payment deadlines for the Employer Health Tax and sales taxes (including provincial sales, carbon, motor fuel and tobacco taxes) until September 30, 2020.
The following tax changes announced in Budget 2020 will be postponed until further notice:
– Expanded registration requirements for Canadian sellers of goods, along with Canadian and foreign sellers of software and telecommunication services.
– Carbon tax increase. 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.
BC Emergency Benefit for Workers
A program providing emergency benefit for workers in BC will provide a one-time tax-free $1,000 payment for BC residents who lost income to COVID-19. The benefit will apply to eligible BC residents who are approved for the new federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The program opened for applications on May 1,2020 – please see this page for further eligibility details and application process.
BC Hydro relief
A new fund allows eligible small businesses that needed to close due to COVID-19 to have up to three months of electricity charges waived. It also allows eligible residential customers who have experienced job loss to apply to receive three months of free credit on their BC Hydro bill based on their average consumption. Residential and commercial customers that are not eligible for the relief fund can contact BC Hydro to discuss deferral of bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty.
Customers on a monthly payment plan who are facing financial challenges due to COVID-19 may defer their payment for up to 90 days with no penalty.
BC Economic Recovery Task Force and additional funding
The BC government has formed an Economic Recovery Task Force working in partnership with the business and labour sectors to develop a long-term plan for economic recovery. $1.5 billion in provincial funding has been pledged to support economic stimulus once the pandemic has passed. The task force includes representatives from business organizations including Creative BC.