Pick of the Day: Harmonized Sales Tax in Ontario & B.C.

No, I’m serious. This is my pick-of-the-day. It’s a late June Tuesday in Regina, the day after a fair bit of National Aboriginal Day and Summer Solstice stuff, and not much else happening.

Anyway, this likely is a pretty important event. In an ideal world, it wouldn’t be. But as we all know …. right? Its the feature presentation at a luncheon being hosted by the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce, and involves Deloitte tax specialist Jeff Harrison looking at recent moves Ontario and B.C. have made to harmonize their provincial sales taxes (PST) with the federal goods and services tax (GST). 

The feds are offering big financial incentives for provinces to switch partly because it would simplify the tax system. Under harmonization, existing provincial exemptions for things like restaurant meals and maybe books and children’s clothes would end and businesses would be allowed to apply for input tax credits on business expenses just like they do with the GST.

Opponents of the move argue that would result in a significant tax shift from business to consumers. Supporters argue that it would help businesses in Canada be more competitive internationally, and that market pressure would force businesses to pass on cost-savings to consumers through lower prices.

So far, both the NDP when they were in power and the Sask Party have been pretty firm in their resistence to the idea of harmonization here. The full title of Harrison’s talk, though, is: Harmonized Sales Tax in Ontario and B.C.: It Could Impact on Your Saskatchewan Business.

How? Well, as far as provincial economies go, B.C. and Ontario are pretty big. If businesses there have a tax advantage, Harrison is likely going to suggest, it’s going to make it harder for Saskatchewan businesses to compete.

In an ideal world, governments of various jurisdictional stripes would have some wiggle room to craft tax and other legislative policies that reflected and protected local values and interests. That doesn’t happen much any more, unfortunately, so the remaining provinces are likely going to come under increasing pressure from business interests to follow B.C. and Ontario’s lead.

Registration for this talk at the Delta Regina is at 11:30 a.m. In typical Chamber fashion, there’s a byzantine six tier-price structure ranging from $23 to $55 depending on whether you’re an RCC member or not, a student or not, and whether you pre-register or not.

Musicwise, Kyle Chyzyk (formerly of Fio) is playing at O’Hanlon’s Pub tonight with Dan Besuijen and guests.

Author: Gregory Beatty

Greg Beatty is a crime-fighting shapeshifter who hatched from a mutagenic egg many decades ago. He likes sunny days, puppies and antique shoes. His favourite colour is not visible to your puny human eyes. He refuses to write a bio for this website and if that means Whitworth writes one for him, so be it.