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BC RMT & COVID-19

To Jane’s RMT Community in BC:

With the government mandated shut down of massage clinics, we thought it might be helpful to compile this list of financial relief options that you, as a self-employed business owner OR as an employee, might be entitled to access.

This list offers a quick set of 3 forms of governmental relief available to RMTs due to COVID-19…annd we couldn’t stop so there’s more after that in what hopefully amounts to a growing list of the things we currently see that you may qualify for. We’ll update as we learn more.

Top 3 Tips for Income Relief

1. Get $1,000 from B.C.’s Emergency Benefit

Of the $2.8 billion allocated to ensure people have the services and support they need during COVID-19, the B.C. government is dedicating $1.1 billion to boost the income of people affected.

A new B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a tax-free $1,000 payment to British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected by the outbreak. The benefit will be a one-time payment for those who receive federal Employment Insurance (EI), or the new federal Emergency Care Benefit or Emergency Support Benefit as a result of COVID-19 impacts.

Employees: To qualify and apply, you’ll need to follow the Regular EI Process if you are an employee.

Self Employed: You will be able to apply for the Emergency Care or Emergency Support Benefit in April. When that happens, Canadians will be able to apply for them through CRA MyAccount or My Service Canada Account or by calling a toll-free number that has not yet been made public. If you do not yet have an online account, the sign up process can take a few days, so you could start the process by opening your CRA MyAccount now.

This benefit will include workers who have been laid-off, who are sick or quarantined, parents with sick children, parents who stay at home from work while child care centres and schools are closed, and those caring for sick family members, such as an elderly parent. The workers can be EI-eligible and non-EI eligible, such as the self-employed.

The benefit will be paid to B.C. residents, in addition to their federal income supports.

2. BC Climate Action Tax Credit

The COVID-19 Action Plan takes further steps to boost income supports by increasing and expanding the B.C. Climate Action Tax Credit in July 2020.

The Climate Action Tax Credit is available to those who earn below a certain threshold and you automatically apply when you file your taxes. You don’t have to do anything special to apply other than to file your taxes Learn more about the Climate Action Tax Credit here.

As many as 86% of British Columbians will see some extra money from this enhancement. Eligible families of four will receive up to $564 and eligible individuals will receive up to $218 in an enhanced payment. This boosts the regular climate action tax credit payment of up to $112.50 per family of four and up to $43.50 per adult.

3. The BC government announced a 50% in tax reductions for 2020 commercial property taxes

Business and light- and major-industry property classes will see their school (property) tax cut in half. This will provide $500 million in immediate relief for business that own their property and allow commercial landlords to immediately pass savings on to their tenants in triple-net leases.

RMT’s can review their lease agreements on their commercial properties and if they are in a triple net lease (which are the most common form of commercial leases), can pass this knowledge on to landlords as they negotiate rental payments during the COVID-19 outbreak. Those in a triple net lease are responsible for paying the real cost of property taxes and therefore should see a 50% reduction in the property tax portion of their payment, or even a credit from their January and February payments.

Landlords might find it helpful to read BC’s plan for School Tax Reduction by 50%.

More Information

Payment Deferral Programs

British Columbians needing more time to pay their bills can also apply to existing payment deferral programs.

  • ICBC is extending deferrals to up to 90 days.

  • People dealing with job loss, illness or loss of wages due to COVID-19 may also qualify for BC Hydro’s Customer Crisis Fund grant program for up to $600.

  • The big 6 banks in Canada are also offering mortgage deferral programs - each bank has it’s own process and you need to contact them directly to learn more and to apply.

Tax Filing Deadlines Extended

In addition to the employer health tax, the Province is extending tax filing and payment deadlines for the provincial sales tax (PST), municipal and regional district tax, tobacco tax, motor fuel tax and carbon tax until Sept. 30, 2020.

(EI)

  • The one-week waiting period to apply for EI has been waived if you are under quarantine (effective as of March 15).
  • The requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI has been waived if you qualify for the EI Sickness Benefit.
  • The government will also be freezing any loan payments for students as another form of relief and support.

Tax Filing Flexibility

The deadline to file has been extended to June 1, 2020 - but be sure to file now if you are expecting a tax return and to take advantage of the tax credits mentioned in this article.

More info at: Canada Federal Tax Flexibility