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Quebec delays provincial tax deadlines, says move will free up $7.7 billion


MONTREAL — Quebec's finance minister is delaying the deadline for individuals and businesses to pay their provincial taxes in order to ease financial pressure caused by the novel coronavirus.

The measures, which will affect about two million individuals and 500,000 businesses, will immediately liberate about $7.7 billion worth of liquidity into the Quebec economy, Eric Girard said Tuesday.

Girard said that instead of the usual April 30 deadline, individuals will have until June 1 to file a return and until July 31 to pay their taxes. Businesses will be required to follow their regular filing schedules, but can also wait to pay taxes until July 31. The delays, Girard said, will give individuals and businesses "more time, oxygen and liquidity."

Girard said the government is still encouraging anyone who can file and pay by the previous deadline to do so in order to reduce the financial impact on the province.

Quebec is the only province that requires individuals and businesses to file separate provincial and federal income tax returns.

Girard wouldn't say whether the federal government was getting ready to announce similar delays, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he expects to make a major announcement on economic actions on Wednesday.

Trudeau said the Liberal cabinet would meet again Tuesday afternoon, and the government will have more to say about the upcoming tax season this week.

Girard added he was in constant communication with his federal counterparts, adding, "I can confirm that we are talking with them and collaboration is excellent."

The provincial delay will temporarily free up roughly $4.5 billion for individuals and $3.2 billion for businesses, Girard said, and the province will not have to borrow any money to make up for the shortfall.

"We already have the liquidity," he said.

He told reporters Quebec has never "been in a better financial position" to weather a global economic slowdown or any other burdens imposed by the spread of COVID-19.

The provincial budget, which Girard tabled March 10, projected a $2.7-billion surplus and increased program spending by 5.1 per cent over the previous fiscal year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2020.

Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press

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