Just days into the New Year, Whistler businesses are being encouraged to begin readying themselves for the switchback to the Provincial Sales Tax (PST), which is set to take effect on April 1.
This advice, issued by the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, arrives on the heels of a recent survey conducted by the BC Chamber of Commerce, which revealed 63 per cent of the 970 businesses across B.C. surveyed do not currently feel prepared for the transition. The survey also stated that 73 per cent did not feel they had received adequate information on the PST.
The Whistler Chamber of Commerce plans to ensure that knowledge gap is filled for Whistler businesses, explained chamber president Fiona Famulak.
“Given the importance of tax systems to a business’s overall operations and its customer experience, it is imperative that Whistler businesses are ready for the transition to PST when it occurs in less than four months time,” she said.
As committed, the seven per cent PST is being re-implemented on April 1 with all permanent exemptions. Consumers will pay PST only on those goods and services that were subject to the tax before July 1, 2010. Consumers will again not pay PST on purchases like food, restaurant meals, bicycles, gym memberships, movie or event tickets, or for personal services like haircuts.
For business owners, there are a number of changes being introduced in the legislation, including an online system that will allow businesses to track their PST information and remit payments.
Prior to the introduction of the 12 per cent Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) in July 2010, B.C. residents paid a combination of the federal government’s five per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the seven per cent PST on most items.
The HST was defeated in a province-wide referendum in the summer of 2011, after a successful campaign to scrap the tax.
Numerous PST resources now exist for B.C. businesses undergoing the transition, explained John Winter, president and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce, including assistance for new businesses.
“Many new businesses in B.C. have never collected the PST, and need to be brought up to speed, so that consumers are not negatively impacted at the cash register come April,” he said.
These resources encompass a wide variety of measures to help businesses, including important transition information from the BC Chamber of Commerce, a website and free webinars on the return to PST, both which are provided by the provincial government.
In addition to this, consultation services are available such as a toll-free number and email address to direct questions relating to the new PST and one-on-one consultations with a ministry tax specialist.
In addition to the aforementioned resources, the Whistler Chamber of Commerce will host an information session on how to prepare for the transition to PST.
“The Whistler Chamber of Commerce wants to ensure that business owners have all the information they need for a seamless transition,” said Famulak. “We are therefore providing access to a variety of PST resources from both the BC Chamber of Commerce and the provincial government. We urge all business owners to begin preparing today, so that the upcoming transition is a smooth one.”
Representatives from the Ministry of Finance will be on hand at the Whistler Chamber of Commerce boardroom on Jan. 30 from 9 to 11 a.m. for a complimentary PST information session to get the details about registration, filing requirements, and administrative changes. Visit www.whistlerchamber.com for full details and to register.