B.C. Auditor General Michael Pickup was appointed in April 2020, after serving as auditor for Nova Scotia. (Auditor General of B.C.)

B.C. businesses owe $6.2 billion in deferred provincial tax payments

Student loan repayment, hotel tax among bills due in September

B.C.’s new auditor general is tracking the province’s massive spending in the COVID-19 pandemic, but too many unknowns remain to rate the government’s performance in the crisis.

Auditor General Michael Pickup was hired by unanimous vote of the B.C. legislature during its summer session in July. His eight-year appointment comes after six years as auditor general for Nova Scotia, and previous work with the federal auditor’s office.

Pickup’s first report, released Sept. 11, does not attempt to audit B.C.’s pandemic spending program, but only to keep up with the myriad of deficit spending initiatives and tax deferrals. He agrees with the finance ministry’s estimate that B.C. businesses have accumulated $6.2 billion in provincial sales, fuel and other taxes that are due to be paid to the province by the end of September.

Finance Minister Carole James confirmed in this week’s release of first quarter financial results that there will be no further extensions in deferred tax payments. Even with the taxes turned in, the ministry is forecasting a record deficit of $12.8 billion for the fiscal year that began April 1.

The six-month deferral of payments to Sept. 30 applies to provincial sales tax, tobacco tax, motor fuel tax and carbon tax collected by businesses. A six-month moratorium on student loan collection also ends, with $70 million in repayments due, and deferred payments from B.C. Hydro residential and commercial customers estimated at $103 million are also due Sept. 30.

RELATED: B.C. deficit forecast $12.8 billion after first quarter

RELATED: B.C. economy expected to recover lost ground in 2022

The report confirms the main elements of B.C.’s $5 billion COVID-19 relief fund, of which $1.5 billion remains to be allocated as business assistance. James rejected opposition suggestions that some of the deferred tax payments should be waived as businesses work to recover from pandemic restrictions.

Pickup said his monitoring report is not audited, and government auditors around the world are doing similar work, “to ensure that independent, non-partisan information is made available during this time of significant funding allocations.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Princeton man on motor scooter refuses to provide breath test to police

The scooter did not have a license plate and was not insured

In this file photo, snow is seen falling along the Coquihalla Highway. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Weather statement issued for Coquihalla, Hwy 3, as arctic front approaches

The early season snowfall expected to hit Fraser Valley, Friday, Oct. 23

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media file)
No reported injuries in Highway 3 rollover

Traffic interrupted for three hours

File photo
EDITORIAL: The power of a single vote

In the Oct. 24 British Columbia election, every vote is important

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Kelowna RCMP investigating unexplained death of cattle

Cattle found dead near gravel road, east of the Kelowna Airport

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Kelowna Capital News)
B.C. Labour Board orders Peachland cannabis company to reinstate laid-off employees

The B.C. Labour Relations Board determined the employees were laid off due to their plan to unionize

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Curtis Sagmoen
Public warning issued to North Okanagan sex trade workers

RCMP warns workers to stay away from Salmon River Road area

Two pigs roam the Salmon Arm Walmart parking lot during a prior visit photographed by Danielle Burgi. (Danielle Burgi photo)
Pigs trot over for a visit at Salmon Arm shopping centre

Employees say this was the second drop-in from the temporarily free-range porkers

Penticton law courts. (Black Press file)
Osoyoos man in court for alleged shooting

The Oct. 11 shooting left a man with non-life threatening injuries

Most Read