Tax Relief Coming for Small Businesses, Non-Profits

Abbotsford Alano Club, A Non Profit Society

Victoria – Small businesses, non-profits and arts and culture organizations paying high property taxes through their commercial leases will be able to get relief through interim business property tax relief legislation that is under development.

The legislation, to be introduced this spring, would give municipalities the ability to provide property tax relief to small businesses and organizations that they identify as paying high property taxes. These taxes are a result of the combination of years of increasing real estate values and their commercial lease terms, including triple-net leases.

Under the current assessment system, properties are valued based on “highest and best use,” which means land with a single-storey commercial building on it may be valued as if it were being used as a multi-storey residential tower. Though “highest and best use” is a standard industry appraisal principle in many jurisdictions, it can result in an increased tax burden for tenants when there is an unexpected spike in value due to factors such as zoning changes or changes to an official community plan.

The interim legislation would allow municipalities to exempt a portion of the value of a subset of commercial properties from taxation, easing the tax burden for tenants responsible for property taxes through their commercial leases.

The proposed legislation would apply to the 2020 tax year and be in effect for a maximum of five years. It is being designed to provide a way for municipalities with enough flexibility to provide tax exemptions to target specific businesses and non-profit organizations to support those most impacted by the current framework, without changing an already complex assessment system.

As this legislation is still under development, the Province will provide more information in the coming weeks.

Surrey Board of Trade Pleased with Upcoming Business Property Tax Relief Legislation

On January 17, 2020, the BC Government stated that small businesses, non-profits, and arts and culture organizations paying high property taxes through their commercial leases will be able to get relief through interim business property tax relief legislation that is now under development. This is expected to provide municipalities with a tool to help with the increasing costs to business and organizations.

“It will be interesting to see how municipalities will identify those businesses and non-profits paying high property taxes as a result of increasing real estate values,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.

“BC’s business community faces some of the highest taxes in Canada, with property taxes being the most burdensome. The Surrey Board of Trade looks forward to more information that will help Surrey’s business community, and that includes our non-profits as well as our arts and culture organizations.”

“The Surrey Board of Trade released the fourth annual Red Tape Report in Fall 2019, which described how burdensome taxation, regulatory, and compliance systems are for small and medium sized businesses. We called on all levels of government to examine the cost of compliance. Reductions in property tax is a necessary step towards creating an economic climate in this province conducive to growth and sustainability.”

The upcoming interim legislation would allow municipalities to exempt a portion of the value of a subset of commercial properties from taxation, easing the tax burden for tenants responsible for property taxes through their commercial leases.

The proposed legislation would apply to the 2020 tax year and be in effect for a maximum of five years. It is being designed to provide a way for municipalities with enough flexibility to provide tax exemptions to target specific businesses and non-profit organizations to support those most impacted by the current framework, without changing an already complex assessment system.

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