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

For Owen Bains, having autism makes navigating the rules and social norms around COVID-19 challenging, says his mother. (Courtesy Nicole Zimmel)
Pandemic poses serious problems for children with autism, say Victoria parents

Parents of children with autism say COVID-19 is overwhelming and reducing social skills

Lacrosse player Patrick Dodds, 19, got his start playing for the Saanich Tigers in Braefoot Park and has now been drafted to the Calgary Roughnecks for the upcoming National Lacrosse League season. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Calgary Roughnecks draft young Saanich lacrosse star for coming NLL season

Going pro at 19 is ‘surreal,’ says Patrick Dodds

Nicole Abbott and her 10-month-old daughter, Ophelia, shown here at the Metchosin Fire Hall for the Halloween events last year. Residents are invited to a drive-through version this year. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore fire halls take pandemic-safe approach to Halloween

One spooky lane among three drive-thru features by firefighters

Helping others, especially those struggling with mental health issues, keeps MOD Pizza owner Jim Hayden cooking. (RIck Stiebel/News Staff)
NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Most Read