As part of an ongoing effort to remain current on various government business support programs, this morning TIABC attended a webinar hosted by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade on
accessing government funding
. Among other things, we learned that similar programs have been announced in 104 countries so far, and just like here in Canada, details and logistics are still being worked out.
We also learned that Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is building a new portal to house various applications. The goal is for the website to be ready next Monday, with the objective of a one-week turnaround to review applications. Applications will be accepted under an honour system for now, but government will be conducting audits and those found cheating will suffer the consequences.
This morning's webinar introduced 10 things SMEs can do to help address cash flow issues, some of which you may already know. However, here is a helpful synopsis:
1. Ensure your CRA business account is set up ASAP and ensure direct deposit is set up correctly.
Federal application processes may get started early next week and you want any funds being provided to arrive as quickly and easily as possible.
2. PROVINCIAL: Defer PST and Employer Health Tax
payments to September 30.
3. FEDERAL: Defer GST and Federal tax payments, but continue to file your returns.
The CRA will allow all businesses to defer, until the end of June 2020, any GST/HST payments or remittances that become owing on or after March 27th and before June 2020. This means that no interest will apply if your payments or remittances are made by the end of June. The deadline for businesses to file their returns is unchanged.
The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until August 31st, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act.
4. Explore options with BC Hydro to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty.
BC Hydro is offering customer assistance programs to help customers experiencing financial hardship during the Coronavirus outbreak.
It was announced today that residential customers who have lost their jobs or are unable to work as a result of COVID-19 will receive a credit to help cover the cost of their electricity bills. The credit will be three times their average monthly bill over the past year at their home and does not have to be repaid. Small businesses that have been forced to close due to COVID-19 will have their power bills forgiven for three months. BC Hydro is waiving bills for these customers from April to June 2020.
5. Defer ICBC payments for 90 days.
Note: ICBC needs you to use their online tool so be sure to request the deferral at least one business day before your insurance is due. This also applies to fleet insurance.
6. Explore the Canada Emergency Business Account.
Up to $40,000 loan, interest free for one year through financial institutions, but fully backed by the federal government. For some businesses, up to $10,000 may be forgivable. The program will likely become available next week.
7. Explore your eligibility for the Federal Wage Subsidy program.
This program helps companies of all sizes, non-profits, and charities that have faced revenue decreases of at least 30% by providing employers a 75% pwage subsidy, back-dated to March 15. Today the federal government provided some clarity on eligibility:
- Eligible employers who suffer a drop in gross revenues of at least 30% in March, April or May, when compared to the same month/s in 2019, will be able to access the subsidy. However, there is no clear guideline yet for businesses that just opened in 2020 or for seasonal businesses that are typically closed in March, April and May.
- The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would apply at a rate of 75% of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees – representing a benefit of up to $847 per week. The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.
8. Defer individual tax payments.
For individuals, the deadline to file taxes is now June 1st.
But this is only an advantage if you expect to owe taxes. Do not delay if you expect a refund! If you do owe taxes after this later filing date, you will now have until August 31st to make the payment.
9. Check and see if your municipality is offering any tax deferral options.
10. Share information about the employment benefits available to your staff:
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
— Provides $2,000 per month for four months to any workers who have lost their income for reasons related to COVID-19 including reasons of sickness, quarantine, taking care of those with COVID-19 as well as working parents needing to stay at home with children. This applies to wage earners, contract workers, and self employed individuals. Applications for this benefit will begin April 6th at the earliest, with payments to Canadians set for April 16th.
BC Emergency Benefit for Workers — Tax-free one-time payment of $1,000 to British Columbians (EI-eligible and non-EI eligible) whose ability to work has been impacted by COVID-19, to be aligned with federal government program
Employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19 related reasons are permitted to take unpaid, job-protected leave. This is retroactive to January 27th.