Monday, January 20, 2020

BC Government set to offer tax relief for small businesses, arts and culture groups and non-profits - through municipal property tax changes

The British Columbia government is looking to give business owners, arts/culture groups and non-profits in the province a bit of tax relief in 2020, announcing on Friday some plans for changes to tax legislation when it comes to property taxes.

The legislation, to be introduced this spring, would give municipalities the ability to provide property tax relief to small businesses and organizations that they identify as paying high property taxes.

These taxes are a result of the combination of years of increasing real estate values and their commercial lease terms, including triple-net leases.

The interim legislation would allow municipalities to exempt a portion of the value of a subset of commercial properties from taxation, easing the tax burden for tenants responsible for property taxes through their commercial leases.

As they have for a number of recent announcements, the NDP government framed their work by noting they were were responding to concerns that they say the previous government had ignored.

In this instance, the message making was taken on by Selina Robinson, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing .

“I understand people’s frustration after years of an out-of-control real estate market have left many small businesses, non-profits and arts organizations struggling with unexpectedly large tax increases. With this interim legislation, we are giving municipalities the tools they need to provide immediate property tax relief to targeted properties, for 2020, while we continue to work with stakeholders on a permanent provincewide fix. The old government heard concerns and did nothing – we listened and got to work on solutions for people.”

The proposed legislation would apply to the 2020 tax year and be in effect for a maximum of five years. It is being designed to provide a way for municipalities with enough flexibility to provide tax exemptions to target specific businesses and non-profit organizations to support those most impacted by the current framework, without changing an already complex assessment system.

As the legislation is still under development, more information is still to be delivered from the NDP government, with City and Town Council's across British Columbia, including Prince Rupert's which no doubt is wondering what the final legislation will look like and how it may impact on their own budget preparations for this year and those to come.

 More on the province's plans can be found here.

Further items of interest on provincial issues can be found from our Legislature archive page.

A look at notes on the municipal scene can be explored below:

City Council Discussion page
Prince Rupert Civic Budget notes

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