Tax changes proposed before the pandemic now in effect in B.C.


A series of tax changes proposed before the pandemic are now in effect in British Columbia, meaning residents will be paying more on a variety of items ranging from online subscriptions to sugary drinks.

Here's a summary of what will cost more, starting with pain at the pumps.

In what is likely unwelcome news for drivers, B.C.'s carbon tax increased Thursday.

The increase amounts to $45 per tonne, which the Canadian Taxpayers Federation estimates will cost 9.9 cents per litre of gasoline.

Gas price analysts have suggested drivers in Metro Vancouver could be paying as much as $1.70 a litre by the summer

Those buying diesel may pay an extra 12 cents per litre, based on the CTF's estimate, and natural gas could cost 8.8 cents more per cubic metre.

The CTF suggests the carbon tax alone will amount to another $7 each time a minivan driver fills up, $12 for a light-duty pickup truck, and $65 to fill a big rig truck. If shipping costs more, that cost could be passed on to consumers in other ways in addition to the tax, the federation says.

In terms of natural gas, supplier FortisBC has promised prices won't change until at least the end of June. However, it said the carbon tax increase and other charges may still result in higher bills for its customers. 

Online entertainment to include PST

Paid subscriptions to entertainment services including Netflix will now cost a bit more too.

In an email to members, Netflix said a "recent change in British Columbia's tax law" means the province's general seven per cent PST applies starting in April.

Spotify sent customers a similar email around the same time advising people who pay to stream music will have to pay the same tax.

Other streaming platforms such as Disney Plus are subject to the same tax. This move was first planned for July 1, 2020, but was put off when the provincial government shifted its focus to the response to the novel coronavirus.

Sweet drinks no longer exempt from PST

The changes in effect as of Thursday include the end to an exemption of provincial sales tax (PST) on many carbonated drinks.

The tax on beverages that contain sugar or natural or artificial sweeteners had been a recommendation for seven years, according to the Ministry of Finance, and was part of the 2020 provincial budget.

It was supposed to take effect on July 1, 2020, but the change was put on hold when the government's focus shifted to responding to COVID-19. 

While the pandemic appears to be far from over, the seven per cent PST is now in effect as a deterrent to those who drink the most pop – kids between the ages of 14 and 18.

The tax will be in effect including for fountain drinks at fast food restaurants and on bottles and cans bought through vending machines, as well as for items purchased at grocery and convenience stores.

Vaping products part of PST plan

British Columbians are now expected to pay more for vaping products, as part of a new requirement from the province for companies and services with revenues higher than $10,000.

While that's the threshold for most businesses, anyone selling vape-related parts, accessories and other products are required to remit PST even if they don't have that high of a revenue.

The measure means any Canadian retailers selling vape products online will be expected to charge PST on orders from customers who live in B.C.

PST must also be collected by businesses outside the province that sell or provide software for use on electronic devices normally located in B.C. and those who provide certain telecommunication services to B.C. customers, whether by phone, by mail, email or the internet.

- With files from CTV Vancouver -

- With files from The Canadian Press -