Dan Albas

COLUMN: Tax filing and commercial rent subsidy

Changes have been made to this year’s tax filing deadlines

Normally, at this time of year, I would be referencing the April 30 deadline to file your personal income tax.

Instead I will be outlining the changes that have been made to the income tax filing deadline.

As part of the federal government COVID-19 response effort, the filing deadline has been extended to individuals to June 1, 2020.

This change applies to all Canadians who file an individual tax return with the Canadian Revenue Agency.

If you owe taxes for the 2019 taxation year the payment deadline has also been extended to September 1st of 2020.

For self-employed individuals the filing deadline remains unchanged at June 15, 2020.

It should also be pointed out that if you are expecting an income tax refund or to qualify for other benefits, such as the GST/HST credit or the Canada Child Benefit, the earlier you can file your return the less likely you are to encounter a delay in receiving these benefits.

There is also now more information available for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program.

This program details indicate that It offers “forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners so that they can reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants by at least 75 per cent for the months of April, May and June, 2020.”

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At the moment to qualify a commercial property owner (landlord) must meet the following criteria:

• Own property that generates rental revenue from commercial real property located in Canada.

• The rental property in question must have a mortgage secured by the commercial real property, occupied by one or more small business tenants.

• The landlord must have entered or will enter into a rent reduction agreement for the period of April, May, and June 2020, that will reduce impacted small business tenant’s rent by at least 75 per cent.

• The rent reduction agreement with your tenants must include a moratorium on eviction for the period of April, May and June 2020.

• And finally a commercial landlord must have declared rental income on their tax return (personal or corporate) for tax years 2018 and/or 2019.

The initial feedback I have heard from commercial landlords has not been positive.

Landlords who do not have a mortgage cannot, at the present time, apply for this program.

Another common complaint is that the program forces a landlord to undertake a loan with no guarantees or recourse if a tenant defaults.

If anything by agreeing to a non-eviction clause for three months, a landlord could be faced with even higher costs from participating in this program.

From the angle of a small business tenant, if the landlord does not qualify for this program or refuses to apply because of the poorly designed terms, they will receive no assistance whatsoever.

In my view, this program fails to achieve the intended goals to help small and mid-sized business with a meaningful rent reduction and I am hopeful that the federal government will make further changes to fine tune this program.

My question this week: Do you agree?

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola. This riding includes the communities of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton, Merritt and Logan Lake.

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