Releasing a budget is always something of a damned if you do damned if you don’t affair for ruling provincial parties. In BC it can often carry a little more weight for consumers and businesses alike as the cost of living in the Lower Mainland gets more and more expensive. The budget showed some good things for the middle class. A focus on childcare, more teachers, and low-cost housing. Who can argue those aren’t good moves? There is also the ongoing promise to remove MSP premiums, something Canadians in other provinces haven’t had to deal with. Ok, good. We won’t pay premiums...so where is the money going to come from? You guessed it, BC businesses. This, if reports are any indication, wasn’t something BC entrepreneurs were expecting in the budget. Don’t forget about the promised $15 minimum wage that’s been promised that businesses will have to shoulder as well. The MSP premiums will be replaced by a Payroll Health Tax. It’s a sliding scale depending on how big, or shall we say, robust your payroll is. Apparently, it will start at $500,000 and go up from there, anything under and you won’t pay the tax. The government claims this level will protect small businesses from the tax. There are many companies out there that actually pay their employees MSP premiums already, so the Payroll Health Tax could become a double whammy for any business already on a tight payroll thread. The government, on the other hand, says 85% of BC businesses are classified as small with a payroll under $500,000 and therefore won’t be affected by the tax. Not everyone agrees.Many local business experts are weighing in and feel the nearly 2 billion dollar tax will be a detriment to growth in BC businesses. Iain Black, president of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade tells Global News:“The main point is not just the payroll tax in isolation, it’s the incrementalism. The small business community is being hit with a 34 percent hit to minimum wage in the next four years, a nine percent increase in the corporate tax rate if they happen to make over the small business tax threshold, they are getting a 16 percent increase in the carbon tax over the next few years.”The budget also promises an increase in the Foreign Buyer’s Tax. Love it or hate it, it’s going to have an impact on local realtors. Will it be a benefit to local buyers? That’s for another blog...With more going out in terms of taxes and wages how will BC businesses deal with it? Well, one way, and is the usual, expenses can be passed on to the consumer. Or, fewer employees do more and varied jobs for fewer hours and less money. We will have to see how this all unfolds.