Pubs and restaurants in B.C. are among the businesses looking for ways to cover the province’s new employer health tax. (Responsible Service B.C.)

Diners’ health tax not catching on in B.C., restaurant group says

Small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

One B.C. restaurant owner is being applauded for his transparency for covering part of the employer health tax with an up-front charge on customer bills, but the idea isn’t catching on yet.

As B.C. small businesses deal with the cost of the new tax on the portion of their payroll exceeding $500,000, they have to look at strategies to cover another cost, along with rising minimum wage, property tax and supplier increases.

In the restaurant business, with part-time staff and narrow profit margins, the choices came down to four, says Rob Chyzowski, owner of Belleville’s Watering Hole and Diner in downtown Victoria. With the new health tax costing him an estimated $40,000 a year, he could lay off staff, increase the price of food and beer, reduce serving sizes or add a new charge to the bill.

Chyzowski opted for the latter, a one-per-cent charge on customer bills labelled “BCH” to represent the additional cost. He says most customers have accepted it.

Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association, says he hasn’t heard of any other restaurant or pub going the same route.

RELATED: Employer health tax wins ‘paperweight award’ for red tape

RELATED: Full weight of B.C. employer health tax to be felt in 2020

“There is a concern about the cost of the health tax, no question about it,” Tostenson said Friday. “But there has been nobody else who’s come out and said, ‘I’m doing this.’ So I think the industry is probably looking at, will it work, and maybe if it works, they should do the same thing.”

Another Vancouver Island restaurant owner, Calen McNeil, is looking at his options as his Big Wheel Burgers chain has grown to four restaurants. He pays above minimum wage and health benefits to keep employees in a tight market for skilled workers, but he says the new payroll tax is pushing him below the break-even point.

“In effect I have to borrow the money to pay the tax,” McNeil told radio station CKNW this week.

His latest burger restaurant opened in Nanaimo, but for further expansion, he’s looking outside B.C.

The employer health tax must be paid quarterly by most larger companies, at a rate of 2.925 per cent on payroll amounts between $500,000 and $1.5 million. Above that, the tax is charged at 1.95 per cent, applying to “all remuneration” including benefits paid to employees.

The B.C. government has an employer health tax calculator so business owners can estimate their payroll and meet the quarterly deadlines to pay it. That system earned the B.C. government a “paperweight award” from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business this week for imposing complicated regulations on business.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kootenay-Columbia MP urges end to ‘illegal roadblocks’ in solidarity with pipeline dispute

Rob Morrison says protestors across Canada need to remove roadblocks on roads, rail lines

Regional District of East Kootenay draft 5-year financial plan open for review

The public comment period is open until noon on March 2

Eagles Boxers at BC Championships

Pictured above: Eagles Boxers are back from the BC Provincial Championships in… Continue reading

It happened this week in 1913

February 16 - 22: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers… Continue reading

Key City Theatre establishes new endowment fund

The Key City Theatre Legacy Fund was made possible thanks to an anonymous donation

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

Adapting to love along the Columbia River

One man starts a GoFundme to help his partner with health costs caused on the trip where they met

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Most Read