British Columbia has decided to implement an Employer Health Tax ("EHT"), effective January 1, 2019. The EHT is a payroll tax, calculated on gross employment income, that employers in BC will need to self–assess and remit. For all employers that will be required to pay instalments during 2019, the deadline for registration for this new tax is May 15, 2019. For all other employers that will be subject to the tax, registration will not be due until the end of December 2019. Determining whether instalments will need to be paid requires an exercise in determining how much EHT would have been due in 2018 if the EHT had already been implemented. For any employer who would have owed more than $2925 in EHT, instalment payments for 2019 will be required.
At its core, the EHT – similar to the one imposed in Ontario – can be a fairly simple tax to deal with in many circumstances, particularly for companies with employees that report for daily work at a location in BC. However, for companies with employees that report for work in multiple provinces, or that get paid from offices outside of BC, or for non–Canadian companies that send employees into BC (among many other potential scenarios), the rules can be much more challenging to apply, and can potentially lead to circumstances of double taxation or assessments for failure to properly report and pay the EHT.
The general rules indicate that employers with total annual payroll in BC of $500,000 or greater will be liable to report and pay EHT, with an increased threshold for charities and non-profits, for whom EHT is not payable until their total annual BC payroll reaches $1,500,000 (with certain other special rules for potential exemptions). However, determining whether you have any payroll amounts in BC, and if so, whether you have crossed these monetary thresholds, can often be a more complicated matter, particularly for entities with related parties that may carry on some business in BC or those that send employees into BC for parts of the year.
At this time, we would advise all businesses that have employees working in British Columbia, whether full–time, part–time or even temporarily to become familiar with the new EHT rules so as to determine whether registration is required, and if so, whether early registration is required before May 15, 2019. We would be pleased to assist with any questions that arise in trying to determine whether compliance will be required.