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White Rock business facing 50% increase in commercial property tax

A popular White Rock business that has been closed for 15 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been hit with a 50 per cent increase in their commercial property taxes, just as they’re getting ready to re-open. Global News

Another B.C. business is crying foul over a massive hike in their property taxes — this time, a jump of nearly 50 per cent.

Blue Frog Studios is a music recording studio in White Rock that also hosts live concerns.

With COVID-19 pandemic restrictions easing, co-owner Kelly Breaks said the business was just about to re-open after being shuttered for nearly 15 months.

Read more: Unrest grows among B.C. businesses over rising commercial property taxes

“Give us some notice, don’t blindside us at the last minute, I mean if we knew this was coming we could have been planning for a greater increase,” he said.

“There’s a thing called ‘budgets’ that we have to adhere to, although with COVID the budget seems to be out the window, but at least we could plan some more — this was just a complete blindside that came out of nowhere.”

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Blue Frog’s overall tax bill has jumped 49 per cent from $18,008 in 2020 to $26,823 in 2021.

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Growing revolt over business taxes in B.C – Jun 23, 2021

The lion’s share of that hike came from the removal of a one-time school tax subsidy implemented for the 2020 tax year amid COVID-19. With that tax break gone, the studio’s school tax jumped 357 per cent from $2,686 to $9,592.

On top of that, its taxes to Metro Vancouver for things like TransLink and regional libraries climbed 18 per cent, its municipal tax climbed 12 per cent and, miscellaneous taxes covering sewer and water climbed 12 per cent.

In contrast, the studio’s assessed property value has only climbed four per cent.

Read more: End of pandemic property tax break ‘insensitive’ to small businesses, Vancouver restaurateur says

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“We’ve been shut down for so many months and this came as a perfect storm to us, that we got hit with this huge increase at the time when we could least afford this,” Kelly said.

Paul Sullivan, Paul Sullivan, regional leader for tax recovery firm Ryan Canada, is predicting a “property tax revolt” among businesses facing growing tax bills amid COVID-19 economic recovery.

“We’ve got the additional school tax, we’ve got the speculation tax, we’ve got regular property tax, we tax air,” he said.

“We need small businesses to be taxed fairly, we need the distribution of taxes between commercial and residential to be more aligned with the consumption of services.”

Kelly said the studio is doing its best to hold on now that the doors can reopen, but that he’d like to see the government review the way businesses are taxed in the province.

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