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Tax compliance and relief update for Alberta and B.C. businesses

Mar 25, 2020

Updated April 8, 2020

For further information on the changes below or other tax matters, please contact any member of our National Tax Group in the Calgary or Vancouver offices.

In an effort to keep you informed of the impact of recent Canadian and provincial tax changes (particularly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic), the Osler Tax Group will provide periodic updates of measures announced by the federal and provincial governments with respect to tax reporting, payment deadlines and other compliance issues. In addition, we will provide updates on measures affecting delays, filing requirements and other procedural issues relevant to tax audits and disputes.

This Osler Update focuses on the following measures:

  1. measures announced by Alberta on March 19, 2020 to harmonize the postponement of filing and payment deadlines for Alberta corporate income tax purposes with the changes announced by the federal government;
  2. measures announced by Alberta on March 23, 2020 in relation to education property tax and WCB premiums;
  3. measures announced by British Columbia on March 23, 2020 in relation to Employer Health Tax, BC PST, and School Tax.

Alberta corporate tax

Tax filings

As Alberta is an “agreeing province” (having entered into a tax collection agreement with Canada), the federal extensions to the tax filing deadlines for individuals, including trusts, apply equally in Alberta under the personal tax legislation.  For a summary of the measures recently announced by the federal government, please see our federal Tax Update

For corporations, the filing due date for Alberta corporate income tax returns that would otherwise fall due between March 18 and June 1, 2020 has been extended to June 1, 2020. Alberta will not assess late-filing penalties for corporate income tax returns otherwise due during this period if they are on or before the new June 1, 2020 deadline.

The information published by Alberta about the extension to the corporate tax return filing deadline can be found here:

https://open.alberta.ca/publications/corporate-income-tax-special-notice-vol-5-no-57-extension-to-cit-at1-filing-deadline (last updated April 2, 2020)

Corporate tax payments

The deadline to pay any Alberta corporate income tax amounts, including tax balances, as well as instalments, coming due between March 18, 2020 and August 31, 2020 is deferred until August 31, 2020. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. However, this relief does not apply to balances or instalments “for which payments were made to government prior to March 18, 2020” (and therefore Alberta will not be issuing refunds for amounts paid in advance of this period).

Alberta has requested that taxpayers use online or remote methods to communicate, or make filings, such as the Tax and Revenue Administration Client Self-Service (TRACS), which is discussed further on the Alberta Tax and Revenue Administration website.

Collections and audits

Alberta has announced that it will modify its audit and collection practices in relation to corporate income tax. To date, no details of these measures have been provided.

Objections

Alberta has not indicated that it will be extending the deadline for filing notices of objection to notices of (re)assessment under the Alberta Corporate Tax Act, and therefore the normal filing deadline is presently still in effect.  Alberta has stated that objections can be submitted by email to tra.revenue@gov.ab.ca or by fax to 780-427-5074.

The information published by Alberta can be found at the following links: https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/corporate-income-tax-special-notice-vol-5-no-56-deferral-of-corporate-income-tax-payments (last updated April 3, 2020) and https://www.alberta.ca/tra-online-services.aspx.

Alberta – other measures

Deferral of education property tax

Alberta and will defer collection of education property taxes for six months and is freezing education property tax rates for 2020 at their 2019 level.

Deferral and relief for WCB premiums

For large businesses (those with over $10 million in insurable earnings for 2020), Alberta will defer the payment due date for 2020 WCB premiums until 2021.

For small and medium-sized businesses, Alberta will waive 50% of Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) premiums for 2020 and defer the remaining 50% payment due date until 2021. Eligible small and medium-sized business are those with $10 million or less in insurable earnings for 2020.

Alberta will automatically provide a refund for 2020 WCB premiums already paid in this year.

Please see the Alberta WCB Employer Fact Sheet [PDF] for more information (last updated March 24, 2020).

British Columbia – other measures

On March 23, 2020, B.C. Finance Minister Carole James announced BC’s COVID-19 Action Plan. The plan includes several forms of tax relief for BC businesses.

Deferral of employer health tax payment

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 from the tax.

Deferral of BC PST and other taxes

BC is extending tax filing and payment deadlines for the provincial sales tax (PST), municipal and regional district tax on short-term accommodation, tobacco tax, motor fuel tax and carbon tax until Sept. 30, 2020.

Tax returns and payments with due dates after March 23, 2020 and before September 30, 2020 will now be due September 30, 2020. This deferral is automatic and no action is required.

Deferral of certain tax increases and new taxes

The scheduled April 1 increase to the provincial carbon tax and the new PST registration requirements on e-commerce will be delayed, and the timing reviewed again by Sept. 30, 2020.

Property taxes

The BC School Tax will be reduced by half for business and light- and major-industry property classes.  In addition, on March 20, 2020, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart announced a 60-day grace period for property tax payments in the City of Vancouver.

Please see the full BC announcement (last updated April 1, 2020).
 

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