I serve on the board of the local Chamber of Commerce. Over the last couple of months I have had a few people ask me if I thought that businesses were ready for the return of the provincial sales tax.
Interestingly, we have heard very little from Chamber members about the PST. Not much at all, actually. No requests for seminars, or conference calls, or online resources, or pamphlets, or phone numbers for toll-free information. Pretty quiet.
I had assumed that the dearth of requests for more information about the reversion from the short-lived Harmonized Sales Tax back to the Goods and Service Tax and the Provincial Sales Tax meant that people were fully up to speed, and that they had no questions.
Then it dawned on me. The reason that we weren’t getting phone calls about the return to the PST was not because businesses were fully prepared; it was because they were too busy to worry about it too far in advance.
But now it’s time to get ready for the switch. Whatever you happen to think about the politics of this, the return to the PST is coming.
April 1, 2013 is when we return to the Provincial Sales Tax. Here’s what you need to know:
British Columbia’s provincial sales tax (PST) will be re-implemented effective April 1, 2013 at a general tax rate of seven percent. This will be in addition to the Goods and Service Tax, resulting in a combined tax rate of 12 percent.
The re-implemented PST, like the previous PST, will be a retail sales tax that is payable when a taxable good or service is acquired for personal use or business use, unless a specific exemption applies.
The tax on private sales of vehicles, boats and aircraft will continue at a rate of 12 per cent. These sales are not subject to GST. The 12 per cent provincial tax rate ensures similar tax treatment between private sales and sales by GST registered businesses. Sales of vehicles, boats and aircraft will be subject to either PST or the tax on private sales, not both.
The PST rate of 10 per cent on liquor will be reinstated with the re-implementation of the PST. Liquor mark-ups will be reduced to their pre-HST levels to generally keep shelf prices constant.
With the re-implementation of the PST, the provincial portion of the HST on tobacco products will be eliminated. To offset this reduction, tobacco tax rates will be adjusted to generally keep the overall tax on tobacco constant.
The surtax of one per cent to three per cent on passenger vehicles with a purchase price of $55,000 and over will be re-implemented.
Most businesses will have to register for the PST. The easiest way to register appears to be online. You cannot use your old PST number; you will need to apply for a new PST registration number. Businesses can remit the PST that they collect online, at their bank, or by mail.
If you have questions about how the PST will apply to your business you can request a one-on-one consultation with a ministry tax specialist. The tax specialist will provide you with the tax applications specific to your business. The consultation may be handled in-person or over the telephone depending on your circumstances.
You can find out more about the return to the PST at www.pstinbc.ca.
The opinions expressed are those of Brad Brain, CFP, R.F.P. CLU, CH.F.C., FCSI. Brad Brain is a Senior Financial Advisor with Manulife Securities Incorporated, in Fort St John, BC. Manulife Securities Incorporated is a Member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Brad Brain can be reached at email@example.com or www.bradbrainfinancial.com.