B.C. chamber adopts Burnaby-based tax protest

The Burnaby Board of Trade’s four-point action plan on the employer health tax was endorsed by delegates at the annual general meeting of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and will be adopted as official policy of the provincial chamber.

Representatives from chambers of commerce and boards of trade from across B.C. voted to adopt the BBOT’s position calling for the employer health tax to be cancelled and proposing four fixes should it still go ahead.

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The BBOT’s position calls for four significant changes to be made to the employer health tax should the provincial government continue its implementation.

The BBOT wants to postpone the tax until 2020 so it coincides with the removal of MSP premiums or establish a process to allow businesses and non-profit organizations that pay MSP premiums on behalf of their employees to apply for an exemption to the tax.

The resolution also asks to increase the payroll exemption threshold (currently $500,000) to allow for more small businesses and small non-profit organizations to be exempt. The third point is to ensure the employer health tax rates are applied incrementally, so that the first $500,000 of payroll is exempt regardless of the total size of the overall payroll.

The BBOT also wants to index the payroll exemption thresholds to inflation by linking annual increases in the thresholds to the Consumer Price Index.

“The Burnaby Board of Trade has several concerns with this new payroll tax, and we want it scrapped,” said Paul Holden, BBOT president and CEO. “We’re happy that our colleagues in the chamber of commerce network across the province agreed with us and adopted our position this weekend. Currently, businesses are looking at a year of double-taxation in 2019 when the tax is brought in while MSP premiums are still being collected. Couple that with a ‘small business’ exemption that is only a fraction of what it is in some other provinces, and a failure to apply the tax progressively, and you can understand the concern amongst our member businesses and non-profits.”

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