COVID-19: Province adjusts property tax framework to support businesses and local governments  

April 16, 2020 
[Sooke, BC] 

COVID-19: Province adjusts property tax framework to support businesses and local governments  

Building on BC’s COVID-19 Action Plan, the Province is making temporary changes to BC’s property tax framework to provide financial support for businesses and local governments.  

Property tax measures for BC businesses include:  

  • Late payment penalties postponed until October 1, 2020.
  • Reduction in the school property tax rate for commercial properties will help provide an average of a 25% reduction in the total property tax bill for most businesses. This enhances the 50% reduction to the provincial school property tax rate that was originally announced for property classes 4,5 and 6 as part of BC’s COVID-19 Action Plan. 

This allows local governments with options to: 

  • Borrow, interest-free, from their existing capital reserves to help pay for operating expenses. 
  • Delay provincial school tax remittances until the end of the year, providing significant relief to local governments facing cash flow issues. 
  • Have greater flexibility to carry debt for an additional year. 
  • Meet operational costs and required remittances to regional districts, regional hospital districts, TransLink and transit authorities, BC Assessment, the Municipal Finance Authority and other taxing authorities. 

As a result, 459 Class 4-8 properties in Sooke will benefit from today’s announcement. Municipal taxes collected from Class 4-8 properties in 2019 was $1.2M (14%) of total District funding. “As almost 86% of District of Sooke property taxes are residential, that aspect of the program will not have a significant impact to the District’s cash flow,” shares Director of Financial Services, Raechel Gray. In 2019, the District collected $640K in School Tax from Class 5-8 properties. The option for the District to delay provincial School Tax remittances to the end of the year is good news for Sooke. “School Taxes collected in 2019 were $4.9M, so the ability for the District to defer School Tax payments until the end of the year will help manage any loss in cash flow,” adds Gray. “At this time, the District does not foresee the need to borrow from existing capital reserves.”  

The Provincial Property Tax Deferment Program is available to eligible residents who are unable to pay property taxes. It is estimated that approximately 70% of homeowners are eligible.

These changes to BC’s property tax framework are in addition to measures announced as part of BC’s Action Plansupports, tax relief and funding for people, businesses and services, including:  

  • Many provincial tax filing and payment deadlines deferred to Sept. 30, 2020. 
  • Businesses with a payroll over $500,000 can defer their employer health tax payments until Sept. 30, 2020. Businesses with a payroll under this threshold are already exempt. 
  • Payments for provincial sales tax (PST), employer health tax, municipal and regional district tax on short-term accommodation, carbon tax, motor fuel tax and tobacco tax are also deferred. 
  • The scheduled increase to the carbon tax rate, and application of PST to e-commerce transactions and sweetened and carbonated drinks, will be delayed. 

Maja Tait, Mayor of Sooke and Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) president, said, “Local governments across BC are working hard to support the implementation of COVID-19 orders, while ensuring residents have access to the services they need in these challenging times. The measures announced today provide additional relief to small business and will free up funds for local government. UBCM will monitor the impact of these measures on the state of local governments finances, and work with the Province to ensure that local governments have the resources to sustain their communities.” 

Provincial News Release – April 16, 2020 

The Canadian Emergency Business Account – expanded loan program for business  

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces expanded loan program for businesses. The Canada Emergency Business Account will now provide up to $40,000 in government-guaranteed loans to businesses that had payrolls last year between $20,000 and $1.5 million. It previously offered loans to business with a narrower range of payrolls, between $50,000 and $1 million. The loans are interest-free until Dec. 31, 2022 and if they’re paid off by then, up to 25 per cent of the total will be forgiven.   

A program to help businesses and commercial landlords cover rents for at least three months, is in the works – details currently being developed in consultation with provinces and territories. “This program will provide support to help small businesses with their rents for the months of April, May and June,” Trudeau said. “To implement this program, we have to work with the provinces and territories as they govern rental relationships.” 


District of Sooke website information links: 

Media Contact:  
Matt Barney, Emergency Program Coordinator & EOC Director 
District of Sooke Fire Rescue  
250-642-5422 ext. 638 |   
District Contacts and Social Media Channels: 
Twitter: @SookeCa 
Facebook: Emergency Program 
District Phone: 250-642-1634 
Fax: 250-642-0541 
Staff Email:Directory 
Fire Dept. Phone: 250-642-5422 
Fax: 250-642-3840