Sales taxes are on the minds of accountants, retailers and consumers with the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) about to take its leave from B.C.
British Columbians rejected the tax, which was introduced by the BC Liberal government after the 2009 election, through a referendum on the unpopular tax in 2011.
The magic date for the change is April 1. On that day the 12 per cent HST will no longer be collected and it will be replaced by a seven per cent Provincial Sales Tax (PST) on most goods and services along with a federal Goods and Services Tax of five per cent.
The B.C. minister of state for small business is encouraging business owners and operators who haven’t applied yet for a PST number to get it done today.
“April 1st is almost here, and we don’t want small business operators waiting until the last moment,” said Naomi Yamamoto through a news release. “They need to register as soon as possible – preferably by going online today.”
According to the minister, registering is quick and easy. The province has offered and continues to provide webinars and seminars to help businesses get up to speed.
The Canadian Federation of Business (CFIB), the BC Chamber of Commerce and the Vancouver Board of Trade have been helping by encouraging businesses to register and avoid putting it off.
CFIB BC Director of Provincial Affairs Mike Klassen said his organization has been in contact with many of its members.
“The vast majority of them have already registered,” Klassen said. “The fact that every business has not registered for the PST tax yet is concerning, however.”
The business organizations dubbed March 19 “Tax Tuesday” and through the course of the day published notes through Twitter reminding businesses to register.
John Winter, the president & CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce said the PST transition seminars in Whistler, Pemberton, Squamish and other communities across the province were successful.
“We know that there are still many businesses that have not registered,” said Winter.
One business owner on hand at the national cross-country skiing championships at Whistler Olympic Park this weekend described the transition to the new tax as a headache.
Jason May of Q Energy said he is well aware of the looming April 1 change over. “The nice thing for my clientele is that the price of Q will go down seven per cent because PST doesn’t apply to it,” said May.
The conversion to the new tax system is expected to cost the province $3 billion. Details of what products and services are subject to PST are available through the provincial government’s website (www.gov.bc.ca/pst). Information on the GST can be found through the federal government (www.cra-arc.gc.ca).