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.

Just Posted

Most cows saved during massive fire on Agassiz farm thanks to fast work of farmers, neighbours

Agassiz Fire Department responded to late night call Wednesday

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Massive fire destroys Agassiz dairy barn

Reports say at least one cow died in the blaze

Hope arm-wrestler turned track and field star wins five medals at 55+ Games

Seven medals total coming back to Hope from golf and track and field events

Chilliwack and Yarrow libraries in need of reading buddies

The Reading Buddy program helps students in grades one to four develop a love of reading

Conservation officer frees B.C. deer from flotation gear mishap

BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to keep backyards clear of entanglements

Lions earn stunning 35-32 OT win over Ticats

Epic comeback lifts B.C. past Hamilton in CFL thriller

Czarnik nets 3 as Flames dump Canucks 5-2

Calgary picks up exhibition win over Vancouver

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

B.C. deaf community wants different sign languages on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

Remainder of Vancouver Whitecaps season filled with ‘must-win’ games: coach

With Vancouver currently sitting four points out of a post-season spot, each contest is crucial

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Most Read