The B.C. government budget extends seven-per-cent sales tax to “software and telecommunications services” as of July 1, 2020. (Pixabay)

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

The B.C. Liberals say they’ve counted 23 new and increased taxes in the NDP budget presented Tuesday, including extending the provincial sales tax to streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus.

The “Netflix tax” is tucked away in the fine print of the budget book, taking effect on July 1.

“Canadian sellers of goods, along with Canadian and foreign sellers of software and telecommunications services, will be required to register as tax collectors if specified B.C. revenues exceed $10,000,” says a section on page 64 of Finance Minister Carole James’ budget.

The budget also requires sellers of vaping products to register for a new PST of 20 per cent, announced last November to discourage use of nicotine and non-nicotine substitutes for smoking. The regular PST remains at seven per cent, on a wide variety of goods and services, soon to include “sweet” soft drinks, whether sugar-free or not.

In the legislature after James presented the budget, B.C. Liberal finance critic Shirley Bond pointed to “employment dropping, economic indicators are trending in the wrong direction” as the province continues to increase spending and taxes.

“We need to see a robust, thoughtful strategic growth plan in British Columbia, and that’s completely non-existent in the budget we saw today,” Bond told reporters after the speech.

RELATED: ICBC forecast to return to surplus by 2021

RELATED: B.C. adds sales tax to ‘sweet’ drinks, sodas

B.C. Liberal MLA Stephanie Cadieux questioned the budget’s forecasts for the Insurance Corp. of B.C., which forecasts a $91 million deficit for the fiscal year ending in March, then surpluses in the next three years. This follows record deficits totalling $2.5 billion in the previous two years.

“Just a few months ago we were told that there was going to be a $50 million deficit this year,” Cadieux said. “It’s ballooned to $91 million, and they haven’t accounted yet for the loss in court that was going to cost approximately $400 million. There’s no mention [in Tuesday’s budget] of how they’ve managed to absorb that in the last few months.”

Bond noted that ICBC rates will continue to go up, except for a 20 per cent cut planned for a few months before the scheduled 2021 election. And Cadieux questioned the latest rate overhaul that increases rates for young drivers.

“ICBC rates are so unaffordable for our kids that they can’t afford to insure their cars to go to university,” Cadieux said.


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