The dismantling of the HST will come with a price as businesses prepare to re-implement the provincial sales tax as of April 1, says the economic director of the Lower Columbia Community Development Team.
Sandy Santori said the expected massive costs of re-introducing the provincial sales tax will be borne by taxpayers, and it could negatively affect local businesses.
“Somebody has to pick up those additional costs. Usually it comes through taxation, and if it doesn’t come through taxation it comes through cuts in programs,” he said.
The PST—enacted 60 years ago and replaced in 2010 with the HST—will cost business owners for new software and systems, said Santori, and by duplicating business practices (filing tax twice) and accounting procedures.
“So that money has to come from somewhere, maybe in higher prices. I know there were a lot of people that didn’t like the HST, although even prior to the HST consumers were paying the 12 per cent, regardless,” he said.
The PST may also have adverse effects in terms of economic development and expansion, he added. The HST would give business owners full tax credit for machinery and equipment and industrial construction, said Santori, but that will now disappear.
Whether the province puts in other mechanisms in place as an incentive for companies to grow and expand he did not know.
Several new programs are available to local businesses as they prepare to change over from the HST to the PST. Free webinars are scheduled over the next couple of weeks and business owners can use the service to cover general principles of the PST as well as eTaxBC, the new e-service for online registration, return filing and payment, and account maintenance.
A webinar is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 18 (10:30-11:30 a.m.). For more information and to register for a session, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/PSToutreach.
All businesses have to register and be issued a new PST number as old numbers will not be recognized. Registration begins Jan. 2 and can be completed online (PSTinBC.ca).
The PST will be re-implemented at seven per cent and will apply to the same goods and services that were subject to PST prior to the implementation of the HST. All permanent PST exemptions will be re-implemented with the new PST, including food for human consumption, most services, admissions and memberships, bicycles and newspapers and magazines.
More than 100,000 businesses will need to register to collect the PST, and about 30,000 of those are new businesses that have only existed under an HST tax system. They will need to learn to administer the PST in tandem with the GST, and adjust their accounting and administrative systems and prepare to collect a second sales tax, as of Apr. 1, 2013.
The Ministry of Finance is still developing the regulations, and transitional and consequential amendments to support the Provincial Sales Tax Act, which received royal assent on May 31, 2012.
The province plans to publicly release a final proposed version of the Provincial Sales Tax Act with proposed amendments in late December. All amendments to legislation require the approval of the legislative assembly, expected in spring 2013.
Links to PST publications, FAQs, an online sign-up form for one-on-one tax consultations for business, along with additional information about the return to the PST, can be found at: www.PSTinBC.ca