Corpcentre's Blog

December 17, 2009

A Province Divided

It would appear that all is not well in Canada’s westernmost province. The implementation of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) looms on the horizon for July 2010 and the ground underfoot is shaky with protests and counter-protests.
 
Critics of the new tax claim that the Liberal government of Gordon Campbell organized strong support from within the business community to endorse the HST. The business community refutes any such instigation by the government. Business leaders in B.C. claim that, following Ontario’s lead in adopting this new tax, they realized that the inherent benefits far outweigh the disadvantages and, thus, have supported the government’s tax proposals. They see the new tax as a way to stimulate the province’s productivity which, according to experts, has been “dismal” for the last two decades. While big business agrees that there will be short term problems with the HST, they feel that the tax will lead to long term economic improvement in investments, competitiveness, and consumer prices.
 
Consumers are slow to give their endorsement. That which is good for business means taking more from the consumer’s pocket. The bottom line is that consumers will now pay more for many goods and services that will carry the HST tag but are currently exempt from PST or GST. This disgruntlement has given way to public protest about other government policies that have not found favour with the public.
 
As a result of the recession, the B.C. government has been forced to curtail some budgets and trim expenses on existing programs. Indeed, with the new budget looming, the public is awaiting the latest round of budget cuts. A prevailing opinion is that the HST was adopted in order to funnel more money into an ailing provincial budget at the public’s expense. During the election campaign, Premier Campbell pledged a deficit ceiling of $495 million. As this summer approached, that pledge grew to a whopping $1 billion and the end of summer saw a projection of that estimate being tripled. With numbers like these being bantered about, neither side is quite sure about the true economic state of the province.
 
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October 26, 2009

E-commerce Provincial Sales Taxes

E-commerce has greatly increased many retail sales. Businesses, large and small, can now reach customers from coast to coast with relative ease, if they have a presence on the internet. However, a very interesting – and tricky – question arises from all these sales. Does a website vendor in one province selling taxable goods and/or services to customers in other provinces have to charge and remit other provinces’ sales taxes?

Would that the answer were simple and straightforward. Just as taxes differ from province to province, so do the requirements for inter-provincial commerce.

Keep in mind that when dealing with tax related issues, it is better to err on the side of caution. Therefore, you should consult with your accountant and/or tax advisor to verify your own personal situation. Similarly, you can obtain detailed information from the finance/revenue ministries of the specific provinces in which you are conducting online business.

There are a number of factors that will determine your tax collection situation. As many small business owners are aware, you are exempt from charging and remitting the GST if you are a small supplier. However, even a business with small supplier status may have to register for GST if they conduct business in provinces that currently have HST (Harmonized Sales Taxes). The GST is part of the HST. Therefore, de facto, you will have to charge and remit provincial taxes in those provinces.

Some provinces have passed legislation requiring out-of-province vendors to register for their provincial taxes. Other provinces “suggest” registering.

Were you aware of the fact that if you, as a vendor, do not collect RST (retail sales tax) in a specific province, the responsibility falls onto the purchaser?

The tax issues are complicated and the requirements, and loopholes, are plenty. Before pursuing your sales in other provinces, check the tax requirements carefully with a qualified tax professional.
 
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