Finance Minister Carole James has been under fire for the payroll tax being imposed to replace Medical Services Plan premiums. (Hansard TV)

Finance Minister Carole James has been under fire for the payroll tax being imposed to replace Medical Services Plan premiums. (Hansard TV)

Non-profits, schools get break on B.C. health payroll tax

Exemption for charities $1.5 million, three times for-profit businesses

Non-profit organizations will get a break on the B.C. government’s new health care payroll tax when it takes effect next year.

Finance Minister Carole James released the details of the new tax Wednesday, so businesses, local governments and other agencies can prepare. The official notice to employers reveals a $1.5 million exemption for charities and qualifying non-profit organizations, three times the exemption offered to businesses when the tax was announced in the B.C. budget in February.

In an interview with Black Press, James clarified that while school districts, health authorities and universities will pay the tax, their budgets from the province will be adjusted to cover the additional costs in the transition period.

“We will be providing resources to school boards, to health authorities, social services, community organizations, universities and colleges,” James said. “Unlike the previous government, we’re not downloading the costs.”

Reimbursing provincial agencies for the cost of the payroll tax is estimated to cost the province $90 million a year.

The tax is to replace revenue collected from Medical Services Plan premiums, paid by individuals and employers. The rate was cut by half last year and is to be eliminated by 2020.

The tax applies to “any entity with a payroll,” says the memo to employers. That includes municipalities, which are preparing to raise property taxes to cover costs they expect to double in 2019. James said.

RELATED: No break from health tax for municipalities

RELATED: Payroll tax a big bill for greenhouse growers

As of January 2019, employers pay 1.95 per cent of their payroll for businesses and organizations with payrolls of more than $1.5 million. A lower rate applies for payrolls between $500,000 and $1.5 million, and those below $500,000 are exempt.

Non-profits that are not registered charities but get the higher exemption are defined as being operated “solely for social welfare, civic improvement, pleasure or recreation” and “any other purpose other than profit.” The higher exemption will also apply to each location of a large non-profit, allowing most to escape additional costs, James said.

The payroll tax applies whether employers pay their employees’ MSP premiums or not. James emphasized that while property taxes may go up, individuals stand to save $800 a year if they have been paying their own MSP premiums.

The finance ministry calculates that with the exemptions, 85 per cent of B.C. businesses will not pay the employer health tax, and fewer than five per cent will pay the full rate of 1.95 per cent a year. Those top five per cent will be responsible for paying 96 per cent of the tax.

BC legislature

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

Just Posted

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Big White Ski Resort pictured on Feb. 26. (Big White Ski Resort)
No new COVID-19 cases at Big White in past week: IH

No more cases have been detected since IH’s last Big White Mountai update, Feb. 19

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Female deputy fire chief embraces the challenges

“Fighting a fire can be taught to anyone,” says Kelowna deputy fire chief, Sandra Follack

Kelowna-Mission MLA Renee Merrifield. (Contributed)
Gender no deterrent for Kelowna businesswoman, MLA

“He looked at me, and he said, ‘You’ll never be as good of a developer as I am.’” — Renee Merrifield

While the Okanagan Rail Trail remained open, Coldstream parks have been closed for a month now, but could re-open mid-May. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Funds link Okanagan Rail Trail to Predator Ridge

1.3-km section of multi-use trail with a safe crossing under Highway 97

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here are the stories that made waves in the Okanagan-Shuswap

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Arrow Lakes Caribou Society said the new caribou pen near the Nakusp Hotsprings is close to completion. (Submitted)
Maternity caribou pen near Nakusp inches closer to fruition

While Nakusp recently approved the project’s lease, caribou captures are delayed due to COVID-19

BC Housing has proposed that the emergency winter shelter at Victory Church at 352 Winnipeg Street be extended as a shelter until March 31, 2022. It was originally intended to be open until April 1, 2021. (Jesse Day - Western News)
One more year of ‘temporary’ homeless shelter in Penticton?

BC Housing has applied to extend Victory Church as a shelter for those experiencing homelessness

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Most Read