B.C. voters have made their decision in the Harmonized Sales Tax referendum.
Now, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is urging government to focus on a smooth and clearly communicated transition back to the PST/GST.
“There is no question, small business owners must see an improved Provincial Sales Tax going forward,” says Shachi Kurl, CFIB’s B.C. director of provincial affairs.
“It is expected to cost $30 million to reinstate the infrastructure to collect a tax that has been described as ‘broken’; one that 59 per cent of our small business members viewed as the bane of the regulatory existence,” Kurl says.
CFIB is calling for a return of the BC Taxpayer Fairness and Service Code for PST which recognized business owners’ rights to fair treatment, timely appeals and dispute resolution in their dealings with PST officers.
The code also recognizes business owners’ right to complete, accurate, clear and timely information when navigating complex PST rules.
The CFIB is calling for the code to further protect business owners by having provincial tax officers provide written answers to written questions that are binding if the business owner acts on the advice given.
Clear communication around the timing of a transition back to the PST is essential.
“Business owners will be dealing with everything from re-keying cash registers to uncertainty around customers waiting to make purchases on items that may or may no longer be tax exempt,” notes Kurl.
“It is critical that our members are told what to expect, when to expect it, and have access to quick and accurate answers to their questions through the transition period. Small business owners deserve information they can rely on.”
Finally, business owners this spring accepted a delay in the reduction of the small business tax rate to zero per cent. That reduction was on track to happen by 2012. It was delayed as part of a larger plan to drop the HST to ten per cent if the voters had chosen to maintain the tax.
“BC must return to conditions that encourage small business survival and growth. Eliminating the small business tax rate as soon as is fiscally responsible is an important step on that journey,” says Kurl.
— Canadian Federation of Independent Business