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

Cow High T-Birds preserve berth in Islands

Cowichan boys fend off challenge from Spectrum

Vehicle, welding machines recovered from theft at Crofton’s Geo-Tech Industries

Suspects still not identified from early Tuesday morning break-in at Crofton business

12 provincial medals for Cowichan Valley wrestlers

Loryn Roberts joins Hird atop podium; club sends three more to finals

Cowichan’s Talon Hird brings home gold medal No. 5

Wrestler becomes fifth in history to go five-for-five

Duncan court round-up: murder, arson and animal cruelty cases in court this week

Daniel Coogan accused of killing his brother last year

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

Petition slams Victoria councillor who chastised police after Wetsuweten protest

Ben Isitt calls effort to get him suspended is not a ‘reliable barometer of public opinion’

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

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

Suspect at large after stealing seaplane before crashing into another in Vancouver

Police responded to the incident at 3:30 a.m. on Friday at Vancouver Harbour

PHOTOS: 2020 BC Winter Games kick off in Fort St. John

More than 1,000 of B.C.’s best athletes will be competing over the next three days

Meet the Wet’suwet’en who want the Coastal GasLink pipeline

Supporters of the pipeline are upset only one side is being heard nationwide

Shopping cart collector at B.C. Costco awarded $583,000 after getting pinned by car

Kurtis Ryan Burdeniuk, 22, was retrieving carts when a driver backed into him in the parking lot

Most Read