A change in the sales tax structure

When the move to the HST was first announced, in the early days the reaction by most citizens was fairly muted.

When the B.C. government first introduced the PST taxation system many decades ago back in the late 1940s, the B.C. economy was far more based on the sale of goods.

Over the decades since, our provincial economy has diversified and expanded and today there is a far larger service industry than ever before.

When the move to the HST was first announced, in the early days the reaction by most citizens was fairly muted.

Given that most retail items were already subject to the PST and GST, moving towards the HST would not make a significant difference.

However once the ramification that service industries would also now be taxed equally and no differently than retail based goods, many taxpayers expressed outrage at the thought of paying more money to Victoria.

Further, while government initially did not forecast a significant revenue increase in this taxation change, the amount of service industries previously not paying any PST was indeed vast.

This not only yielded an increase in tax revenue to government, it also legitimated the concerns from many taxpayers of paying more money in taxes to B.C. general revenue.

Not all concerns opposing the HST however did materialize.

As many will recall, one of the primary benefits of the HST was that as a taxation format it is far more supportive in job creation.

Critics had suggested that the HST would result in job losses, in some cases by the “thousands.”

In reality we know now that in fact B.C.’s unemployment rate has dropped to 6.2 per cent from seven per cent and that our provincial economy has gained close to 20,000 jobs over 16,000 of which are full time.

In fact, since February, 2011, B.C. has added close to 58,000 jobs to our provincial economy.

The intent of this week’s report is not to revisit the HST and going back to the former PST but rather the focus is on going forward and moving from the current HST taxation format to PST.

This week new legislation has been introduced that will see the transition to PST underway for the target date of April 1 of next year.

This new legislation will ensure that all of the formerly PST exempt services will again be exempt as was the case prior to the introduction of the HST.

In addition, new efforts have been made to assist businesses with collecting PST, for example remittances will now be due on the last day of the month instead of on the middle as was the case before.

PST commission will again be paid to businesses as was the case previously and more information and reporting will be available online.

The move to the PST also means that the BC HST credit will be eliminated and the lesser BC sales tax credit re-implemented.

The taxpayer fairness and service code will also be updated to reflect the changes between the two different tax systems.

Beginning in January 2013, new staff will begin work on registering over 100,000 businesses  to the new B.C. PST system and outreach seminars will be available including electronic information online.

For further information please visit the www.pstinbc.ca website.

Before I close this week I would like to offer a special note of congratulations to the Penticton Vees in winning the RBC Cup national junior hockey championships.

This is an incredible achievement and is yet another chapter in the impressive hockey legacy of the Vees history in our community.

It was also great to have a team named after a city that we can all be proud of featuring so prominently at a nationally televised event.

Job well done to all involved.

Bill Barisoff is the MLA for Penticton.