Tax relief coming for Burnaby businesses amid COVID-19 crisis

Tax deferments for businesses were announced by the province on Monday, March 23, along with other financial relief for all British Columbians.

The change allows business to defer payments until Sept. 30, including provincial sales tax, municipal and regional district taxes, and employer health tax payments for businesses with a payroll over $500,000.

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The City of Burnaby has been working with the province on tax relief options for businesses and citizens, according to Mayor Mike Hurley.

Hurley spoke about tax relief in a video conference with Burnaby Board of Trade president and CEO Paul Holden last Friday.

“We obviously have been hearing from our members about the struggles that they’ve been going through and the struggles that have hit them in very short order,” Holden said, adding they’ve been hearing about resources on the federal and provincial levels. “What thoughts do you have, Mayor Hurley, on what can be done at the city level for businesses?”

The decision to move ahead with any tax relief comes from the province, Hurley said.

“We’re an animal of the province, so most of our legislation belongs within that realm of the province if we start talking about changes to how the taxes will be collected or deferral of tax,” he said.

The mayor has been in talks with Selina Robinson, the minister of municipal affairs and housing, and the city is working with the ministry, he added.

“I know our staff is having a lot of input with the province to see what can be done to relieve the pressure, especially on small and medium-sized businesses that we’re really concerned about and I know are facing incredible pressures at the minute to even stay afloat,” Hurley said.

Hurley said he would provide more information as decisions are made.

“We’ve sent some ideas to them of how we think it could work, you know, with some tax relief hopefully for businesses – for all, not just businesses,” he said. “As soon as we have those meetings and we have something concrete to report on, we will certainly report that out.”

Property tax is a specific concern for local businesses, according to Holden.

“In some cases these are not small numbers that are coming around, so anything that can be done to help, with either deferrals or any other mechanisms, that would be well received by the businesses,” he said.

But he added that the responses he’s gotten from all levels of government give him hope.

“On a personal level, I’ve been very heartened by the responses I’ve had through conversations with various levels of government just on the fact that we know that health of citizens is the primary concern and importance right now, but not a long way behind that is the need for the economy to survive,” Holden said.

Hurley agreed with his take on the situation.

“You’re bang on in your summation there that right behind health concerns for all levels of government is that economic piece and the businesses that are so critical to everything we do,” Hurley said.

He thanked the business community for working with all levels of government during the COVID-19 crisis.

“I thank the business community for your patience, and I know there’s much angst amongst the business community and you’re being forced to close some doors in the best interests of health, and I’d like to thank all the business out there that are continuing to do all they can to do their part to make sure we can all work together to get through this, Hurley said. “Certainly we hope to start delivering some better news soon, (as we) flatten the curve as everyone talks about, so we can get back to some level of normalcy.”

For more information on the announcement by the province, click here.

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