VICTORIA - Proposed amendments in the Finance Statutes Amendment Act introduced today will help improve collection on defaulted debts owed to government, reduce collection costs and help ensure funds are available for government programs and services, Finance Minister Michael de Jong announced.
Bill 13, Finance Statutes Amendment Act, includes amendments to the Financial Administration Act that would expand the ability of ICBC to refuse to issue a driver’s licence, vehicle licence, or number plates to a person who has defaulted on debts owed to the government.
The legislation will require 30 days’ notice to the debtor before ICBC is notified, after warning letters have been sent and debtors have had time to comply voluntarily. Government has a number of legal tools already at its disposal, such as wage garnishment or demands on bank accounts.
For most debt, the direction not to issue licenses would be given once the account has been out of good standing for a year or more. Unpaid court fines would need to be overdue by 120 days or more before a refuse-to-issue direction is considered.
This action would not be taken against any debtor who is making regular payments or has demonstrated financial hardship. People can work with the Ministry of Finance to enter into payment plans for their debt to government at any time, including once they have received the refuse-to-issue notice. Non-driver’s-licence photo identification (e.g. B.C. Services Card) will not be affected by this provision.
The amendments to other acts introduced in Bill 13, the Finance Statutes Amendment Act 2015, will simplify and streamline regulatory requirements and help ensure statutes are clear, current and effective.
If passed, the amendments will affect the following provincial statutes:
Income Tax Act: The Income Tax Act amendments are required to maintain consistency with the federal Income Tax Act. Harmonization with the federal act simplifies administration of similar provisions.
Mineral Tax Act: Amendments to the Mineral Tax Act will improve consistency with confidentiality provisions found in most other tax acts administered in B.C., and allow the disclosure of information for the purpose of implementing or administering mineral tax revenue-sharing agreements with First Nations.
Provincial Sales Tax Act: The amendments to the Provincial Sales Tax Act are technical changes that provide more clarity and certainty, and expand the circumstances in which out-of-country businesses may register to collect and remit PST.
Real Estate Services Act: Amendments to the Real Estate Services Act are technical amendments intended to maintain the effectiveness of the regulatory framework while ensuring continued consumer protection. Amendments include clarifying how money is handled by licensees, how compensable loss is calculated, and improvements to the composition of the Real Estate Council to better reflect the interests of strata owners.
Tobacco Tax Act: Amendments to the Tobacco Tax Act will allow B.C. to participate in the federal tobacco stamping program. The new federal tobacco stamp offers improved security features and specific provincial markings, and makes counterfeit tobacco products more difficult to produce and easier to identity.
Various Tax Acts: Administrative and enforcement provisions of the Carbon Tax Act, Motor Fuel Tax Act, Provincial Sales Tax Act and the Tobacco Tax Act to provide greater consistency across the acts, and to help ensure fair and effective administration.
Financial Administration Act: Additional amendments to the Financial Administration Act will improve the efficiency and performance of government’s debt-collection activities by allowing for broader sharing of debtor information.
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Finance