HST Looming in Ontario & B.C.

Posted 2010.05.31 13.19 in Pointless Blather, Work by Stephanie

With the HST (known as VAT in other parts of the world) only a month away now for Ontario and B.C., it’s still mighty hard to find crucial information. It’s out there, but they seem to be going to great lengths to hide it. Reminds me of the planning notice that Arthur Dent found, that let him know about his house’s impending demolishment. On display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, in a disused lavatory in the cellar, where the lights didn’t work and the stairs were broken, and a sign outside the door saying “Beware of the Leopard.”

So the information is out there, and if you happen to run a business or just need to know about the tax laws, then it’s up to you to check the government’s websites on a regular basis and dig and scrounge for information – bearing in mind that it might be wrong, outdated, or superceded next week. Eg. the Ontario government set up a toll-free number you could call to get information on the new rules. I called the number and asked some very specific questions. The answers I was given sounded authoritative and informative. Some of them were wrong, or contradicted information provided by other venues.

By and large, I don’t expect that prices of most goods or services will go up much, and I don’t expect them to go down at all. There are certain areas though where the general public can expect to receive a good solid boot to the head. For instance, the price of postage had a fairly stiff increase in January – from 54 cents to 57 cents for a normal first-class letter within Canada. This will see another jump due to the tax increase, from 5% to 8%. So a 57 cent stamp (which currently costs 60 cents) now, is going to cost 64 cents in July. Factoring the increase in postage and the increase in taxes, this means an overall price hike of  7 cents, within 6 months. Not a lot of money for a single stamp, but what if you use a hundred a month? That’s a 7 dollar increase.

Gasoline will probably go up, although it’s already heavily taxed now. They do indicate the GST separately on the bill, and that’s going from 5% to 13% in Ontario so we’ll see what happens. Will the hidden provincial taxes on gasoline go down, or not? And if they do go down, will the pumps reflect that, or will they take the extra profit by keeping the price the same?

Electricity and natural gas will go up I think. Both are taxed at 5% now, that’s going to 13% so you can probably expect an 8% price increase on those aspects of maintaining your home. Things like telephone, cable tv, internet, etc. won’t go up as they’re already taxed with PST, so the rate will stay the same, just the wording will be different.

One of the examples in a government bulletin was interesting – if you buy an ‘unlimited’ rail pass that is valid all over Canada, the tax you pay will depend on where and how you bought it. Via the internet, from your home in Ontario? 13% tax. In person at a rail station in Quebec? 5% tax. Same product/service, same supplier, same customer, but different rates.

Taking that a bit further, it’d be actually handy if you were lucky enough to live somewhere along a provincial border, you could have the advantage of buying various items from whichever province had the best deal. Like for instance, if you lived in a place like Ottawa, you could zip over the river and buy your stamps and gas in Quebec where the gst is only 5%, rather than here in Ontario where it’ll be 13% next month. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence though.

Leave a Comment