The cost of parking on campus is about to go up. BCIT isn’t raising the rates, but the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is requiring BCIT to collect more tax on the deemed value of the benefit.
The FSA collective agreement specifies at Article 7.8.2 that, “There shall be no change in parking fees except by mutual agreement of the Parties.” Parking fees, with the exception of the Downtown Campus which an arbitrator ruled was excluded from this provision, have not been increased in decades. FSA members pay $2-$5 a month for parking in Burnaby plus federal and provincial sales tax.
In 2009, BCIT was instructed by CRA to assess income tax on the difference between what FSA members pay for parking and the Fair Market Value of parking on campus. By surveying local commercial lots and by accounting for a variety of other factors, BCIT estimated that value to be well below what students actually pay. Members using the parking benefit have paid tax on that amount since that time. The assessed taxable benefit on the Burnaby campus has ranged from $58.25 a month to $65.89. The actual tax each person pays on that amount varies according to their personal tax rate. Most members have been paying been between $12 and $17 a month in income tax because of the parking benefit. The FSA sought advice from a tax lawyer when this assessment was implemented and determined that we could not successfully challenge the decision.
Last year, CRA came out with a new directive on how the Fair Market Value of parking is to be calculated. BCIT was instructed that the value of staff parking has to reflect the rates paid by students. As a result, the assessed benefit will almost double, rising to $107.40-$111.21 per month as of November 1, 2016. The income tax paid by members will increase to $22-$29 per month. Each pay cheque for a member using the parking benefit will take an additional $5-6 hit, even though actual parking rates are not rising.
As has been the case, members may be able to seek an exemption from the tax assessment by demonstrating that BCIT requires them to drive for work, that they have a disability, or that they are unable to access the parking benefit because they are on leave or some similar reason. Members in these circumstances are encouraged to contact BCIT’s Payroll office or the FSA office if Payroll does not accommodate their request.
With salary increases being so meager under the provincial government’s mandate, increased taxes and fees easily eat up the gains made in bargaining even before we attempt to pay for the rising costs of living.
To try to make the situation a bit better, the FSA proposed that BCIT eliminate the nominal parking fees altogether, given that they amount to less than $80,000 annually for our members. BCIT replied that the provincial government would not allow that change mid-contract. The FSA has also asked for improved parking services to make it easier for faculty and staff who face full lots if they arrive mid-morning. BCIT has not yet responded to that proposal.Leave a reply →