By PETER MILOBAR
MLA, Kamloops-North Thompson
MANY BRITISH COLUMBIANS are having a rough go of it financially right now.
If you’re having trouble paying your bills or balking at the price at the gas pump, you’re not alone. It’s probably the worst time for the government to slap new taxes on consumers, but here we are.
On July 1, a new NDP tax on online marketplaces came into effect which will impact small businesses who pay a fee to sell their goods on sites like Amazon, eBay and even Uber Eats. There will now be taxes on that fee, which will impact their bottom line and no doubt trickle down to you, the consumer.
There are also other applications for this tax. When you order food through an app, the restaurant may pay a commission or fee. When you order on e-commerce, some of the small merchants that sell on these websites pay a placement fee or pay for advertising to the marketplace, because they want to be at the top of the list when consumers search.
Or they’ll pay for services like ‘pick and pack’ and delivery to make it easier to get their products to consumers. Those fees that are paid by small businesses will be taxable now, making them less competitive and forcing them to pass that added cost down to you.
This new online marketplace tax will help the government rake in an extra $100 million in provincial revenues in the next year. It’s a way for government to collect hidden taxes at a time of rising inflation, which is the last thing people need.
Even worse, if services like Meta Pay take off, they could be forced to collect tax on used goods you purchase through Facebook Marketplace. The same goes for any online marketplace provider that allows you to pay online.
B.C continues to experience a deepening affordability crisis and British Columbians are enduring some of the worst consequences. We have the highest gas prices in North America, and we’re doing double-takes at the grocery bill each week.
We’re seeing the highest rents in the country, and home ownership continues to be an unattainable goal for many people. Inflation has surpassed eight per cent in our province, and the NDP is refusing to provide relief.
A few months ago, the premier told us that he had directed Finance Minister Selina Robinson “…to look at efforts to bring forward initiatives to assist with inflation… we’ll see how that goes.” Since the time of Horgan’s comments, no such initiatives have been announced.
People feel abandoned by this NDP government, and by a premier who clearly has the luxury of maintaining a ‘we’ll see how that goes’ attitude. Not only are they doing zilch to provide inflation relief, they are making the situation worse by laying on more taxes.
It’s further proof this is a government that is completely out of touch with everyday British Columbians.
Peter Milobar was elected MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson in May 2017, and re-elected in October 2020. He is the Official Opposition Critic for Finance. He previously served as critic for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, critic for Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and the Official Opposition House Leader.