Quebec will be extending tax filing season beyond April 30 to ease pressure on residents coping with the fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak, the province’s finance minister announced Tuesday.
The delay will push back the date for filing provincial income statements for individuals to June 1. The taxes owed will not need to be paid until July 31.
Eric Girard said people should still strive to file by April 30, especially if they are expecting a tax return. If taxes are filed before the end of April, tax returns will roll out on time, he said.
Companies are expected to file on time, but will also not need to pay until July 31.
“Small business owners, big business, citizens — it’s difficult for everyone. Agriculture sector, tourism, restaurants, I’m certain that gym owners have it hard too,” Girard said.
“It’s important that our actions be precise and efficient.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday he’s also open to extending the federal tax deadline.
Girard said the delay represents over $7 billion will remain in the hands of Quebecers and businesses.
He also said Quebec Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon will announce additional measures to assist businesses in the coming days.
Long-term economic impact unknown
When asked what impact the crisis would have on the Quebec economy, Girard said it was hard to predict.
“I don’t have numbers. I don’t know how long this will last,” he said. “What’s going to happen with public health will determine the economic impact.”
Despite strong economic growth in February, there was a contraction of the world economy in March, he said.
“How many months will resemble the month of March? That’s extremely important.”
The announcement comes a week after Girard tabled the provincial budget. At the time, he said Quebec was “well-equipped” to weather the crisis.
His budget speech made all of one reference to coronavirus, and the budget itself contained no specific measures to deal with the outbreak or its economic consequences.
The CAQ passed additional budget appropriations on Tuesday before it adjourned until April, giving the government access to $500 million to pay for things like the emergency daycare that will serve essential workers.
COVID-19 testing capacity to increase
Also new Tuesday, Quebec will increase its COVID-19 testing capacity, from 1,600 to 6,000 tests a day.
Previously, tests had only been sent to the province’s Public Health Laboratory in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, in Montreal’s West Island. Now, seven other medical centres and hospitals will be able to analyze results as well.
“We will do that — test, test, test,” said Quebec’s director of public health, Horacio Arruda, Monday. “The transmission here is still at its beginning. I’m not telling you there is no transmission … but we will soon be testing, testing, and testing.”
This comes a day after Montreal public health officials said there was likely community transmission in the city that hasn’t been detected.
In an effort to stop the spread of the virus, Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said there will not be emergency shelters in place this year in the event of flooding.
Public health officials were dispatched to Trudeau airport starting Monday, to create an additional checkpoint for arriving passengers to inform them about COVID-19.
Workers are handing out flyers with details about how travellers should self-isolate, as well as recommendations for tracking their symptoms.
Trudeau airport is now one of only four airports in the country where international flights will be allowed to land.