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

Another brewery on tap for Kelowna

Wild Ambition Brewery opened last week in Kelowna

Your guide to winter light ups around the Okanagan

From Vernon to Summerland, with a stop in Kelowna, we’ve found some activities for you to enjoy

Stolen Kelowna vehicle located in Penticton, driver facing numerous charges

The accused attempted to flee from police, ramming fences and police vehicles in the process

Update: Two-vehicle crash triggers rollover in Rutland

A SUV landed on its roof after a driver reportedly ran a red light.

VIDEO: Close encounter with a whale near Canada-U.S border

Ron Gillies had his camera ready when a whale appeared Dec. 7

B.C. Lions hire DeVone Claybrooks as head coach

Former Stampeders DC succeeds CFL legend Wally Buono

France shooting: 2 dead, several wounded in Strasbourg

A world-famous Christmas market was put on lock down on Tuesday

Canadian warship witnesses possible violations of North Korea sanctions

Crew members on HMCS Calgary took photos and collected other information

Christine Sinclair named Canadian Women’s player of the year again

This is the 14th time Sinclair has been named player of the year

B.C. man wants trapping laws changed after dog killed

Louis Seguin’s 10-month-old Australian shepherd died in a body-gripping trap last month

Nearly 8,000 homeless in B.C., first province-wide count reveals

Twenty-four seperate counts in B.C. cities found there are thousands of homeless in all corners of province

UPDATE: Highway 1 closed near Revelstoke

A vehicle incident has closed Highway 1 in both directions

Most Read