Richmond MLA advocates for Chinese restaurant tax break amid coronavirus outbreak

Richmond MLA Teresa Wat has voiced support for the local Chinese restaurant industry’s appeal for a tax break amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Last week, the Richmond News reported how members of the Canada Catering Association – which has 200 Chinese restaurants, many in Richmond – appealed to the three levels of government after being hit hard by fears over the spread of the virus (COVID-19).

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Wat joined association members Friday at a press conference to pledge her support for their bid to have a six-month tax exemption because their restaurants are unusually quiet.

Many Chinese restaurants in Richmond contribute significantly to the local economy, said Wat, adding that it’s unfortunate to see their sales drop as much as 80 per cent in recent weeks.

“Many restaurants suffer losses and some even plan to close their business,” Wat said.

“In response to the situation, I took the opportunity to make (a) statement in the legislature, outlining all challenges faced by the catering and food export industry.

“I will continue to press the Finance Minister (Carol James) and Premier (John Horgan) to come up with immediate relief for restaurants.”

The Richmond News’ later asked Wat to elaborate on how she is going to advocate for the association members.

A director from the non-profit association also defended his group members against what he called “misconceptions” about certain Chinese restaurants in Richmond only accepting cash.

William Tse told the News that none of its members have a cash-only policy.

“It might be common over 10 years ago that some Chinese restaurants only accepted cash due to technical issues, but a lot has changed over the past few years,” Tse said.

“If business owners are being shady to avoid tax, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will be chasing after them.”

Credit card companies usually charge two per cent processing fees on every credit card related transaction, explained Tse, adding that taking cash or debit card might help lift financial burdens for these small business owners.

“The provincial government also closely monitors the POS (point of sale) system installed at each restaurant. If something illegal happens, government officials will track the business down,” said Tse.

“I hope the public can acknowledge that the restaurant industry is hurting at the moment. Helping them to overcome temporary difficulties should be our top priority.”

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