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. 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

CIHL games for the 2020-2021season like this one between the Rupert Rampage and the Terrace River Kings on Feb. 21, 2020, have been cancelled due to the global pandemic. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Rupert Rampage season cancelled amidst global pandemic

Central Interior Hockey League cancels 2020/21 season - open to exhibition games if possible

Jennifer Rice is sworn into legislature as NDP BC Northcoast MLA via online ceremonies on Nov. 24 by Premier John Horgan and Kate Ryan-Lloyd clerk of the legislature. (Photo supplied)
Jennifer Rice sworn in as NDP North Coast MLA

BC legislature has highest women governed caucus in Canadian history

The Prince Rupert Port Authority is once again among the sector’s highest environmental performers in the Green Marine environmental certification program. (Photo courtesy PRPA)
Environmental excellence streak continues for Prince Rupert Port Authority

PRPA graded among the highest achievers in Green Marine program

Paving and sidewalk cost replacements being scheduled for 2021 are doubled that of 2019 but remain status quo for 2020 according to Prince Rupert chief financial officer, Corrine Bomben at a regular council meeting on Nov. 23. (Photo: K-J Millar/ The Northern View?
City begins to plan acquisition and construction for capital projects for 2021

Prince Rupert water, sewer, solid waste and paving are being scheduled for 2021

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

People wear face masks as they pose next to a Christmas display in Montreal, Sunday, November 22, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
How to tell family their Christmas gathering is too risky and you’re not going

Dr. Hurst says it’s best to frame the conversation from a place of care, stressing safety precautions.

Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix.”
Free ‘Hollywood Suite’ movies in December include ‘Keanussance’ titles starring Keanu Reeves

Also featured is the Israeli-made ‘Valley of Tears,’ a 10-part war drama

FILE - This May 4, 2020, file photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, shows the first patient enrolled in Pfizer's COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.  Pfizer announced Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, more results in its ongoing coronavirus vaccine study that suggest the shots are 95% effective a month after the first dose. (Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP, File)
VIDEO: B.C. planning for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the first weeks of 2021

The question of who will get the vaccine first relies on Canada’s ethical framework

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Canada has spent more than $1 billion to pre-order seven different developing COVID-19 vaccines

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

British Columbia Premier John Horgan speaks during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Horgan is set to introduce his NDP government’s new cabinet Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP cabinet built to tackle pandemic, economic recovery, says former premier

Seven former NDP cabinet ministers didn’t seek re-election, creating vacancies in several high-profile portfolios

The COVID-19 test centre at Peace Arch Hospital is located on the building’s south side. (Tracy Holmes photo)
B.C. woman calls for consistency in COVID-19 post-test messaging

‘Could we just get one thing straight?’ asks Surrey’s Deb Antifaev

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Most Read