Column from Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm

Preparing for the PST

In less than four months, on April 1st, we will be switching from the current HST tax system back to the PST system, and this changeover will affect families and businesses both large and small. I’d like to outline what these changes mean to you and give you some resources that will help you adjust to this change.

On April 1st, B.C. will implement the PST at a general tax rate of seven per cent. The PST will apply to all of the same goods and services that were subject to PST before the HST came in to effect. The items that were permanently exempt under the PST previously will continue to be exempt when it is re-implemented, including groceries, most services, newspapers, all the permanent PST exemptions for business, etc.

Many of you may be asking yourself if this is the same legislation that was in place before, and if so, why can’t the HST be eliminated before April. The answer is no, it is not the same legislation; the original legislation and regulations were introduced in 1948, and are quite out-of-date and not comprehensive, so new legislation was needed to make the new PST work better. In regards to the transition, changing a tax system isn’t as quick or easy as it may seem; there are many steps involved, and it is quite complex. When we changed to the HST, it took many months – and changing to the HST was much simpler, because with harmonization, we just got rid of one tax and changed the rate of another. Re-introducing the PST means putting in a new, separate tax for government to administer and business to comply with.

I know business owners have questions and concerns as to how the transition will affect them, and I want to assure you that our government is working to make the transition as easy and seamless as possible. Through a combination of one-on-one consultation services, online webinars, a toll-free information number, an e-mail address for questions, and many other services, we hope to give business owners the information they need to ensure a smooth transition.

I hope most business owners in our community have received a letter informing them about these services, and have taken advantage of them. For those of you who have not yet had the chance to, if you have any questions or concerns about how the switch to PST will affect your business, our government is here to help you. You can call 1-877-388-4440 with all your PST-related questions, or e-mail them to CTBTaxQuestions@gov.bc.ca. You can also find more information at www.pstinbc.ca and at www.gov.bc.ca/PST, as well as on my MLA website, www.patpimmmla.bc.ca.

With these tools at hand, we hope to make finding the information you need as easy as possible. After all, we all want what is best for business and our communities.