Chamber, government help businesses revert back to PST

NANAIMO – Provincial tax will be seven per cent on most items when changeover starts on April 1.

The Greater  Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce is urging local businesses to register for the upcoming changeover from the harmonized sales tax back to the provincial sales tax as soon as possible.

Michael Delves, chairman of the chamber, said the changeover can present a challenge for smaller businesses, especially ones that haven’t been around long enough to have experienced the PST before the HST was installed July 1, 2010.

“Larger companies generally have no problem,” said Delves. “It’s the small business where the owner runs the store or just has a couple of employees that will feel the burden of switching to the PST. They’re already very busy, and this is just one more thing.”

British Columbia will revert back to the PST April 1, though the tax will be implemented under a more streamlined and modern Provincial Sales Tax Act. According to the government website, the new PST will be “clearer, easier to understand and comply with, easier to administer, and better reflect modern technology and business practices.”

To help local businesses make the switch, the chamber has provided several seminars for its members to educate business owners. Topics include general PST application, registration and the new online service option called eTax. It has also used social media and its website www.nanaimo to get information out.

Kent Casady, spokesman for Nanaimo’s Extraordinary Organics restaurant and catering business, which opened in January, said he had some extra urging from the liquor board.

“There was some insistence from the liquor board because if we didn’t register by April 1 we wouldn’t be able to sell any liquor,” he said. “But the process was easy. Once I got to where I needed to be on the website it only took about 10 minutes. There are still a couple of numbers I need to get to them but no, I wouldn’t say it was too much of a problem.”

Businesses are encouraged to register for the PST as soon as possible at to avoid a last-minute rush.

“Even businesses that have used PST before, it’s been a few years so a refresher is always a good idea,” said Delves. “But there are a lot of businesses in Nanaimo that have only used HST so it will be new to them.”

On March 19, several organizations representing business, including the BC Chamber of Commerce, Vancouver Board of Trade, and Canadian Federation of Business, introduced PST Tuesday, a public awareness event to orient businesses with the PST and help then with the transition.

“We have recently contacted many of our members and the good news is the vast majority of them have already registered for the new PST tax,” said Mike Klassen, CFIB B.C.’s spokesman. “But the fact that every business has not registered for the PST tax yet is concerning.”

Webinars are also being provided by the provincial government to assist businesses and provide all of the information necessary on the PST.

The province was forced to scrap the HST after a referendum last year revealed the public was not onside with it.

The issue was also a factor in ousting former Premier Gordon Campbell from office.

The PST taxation rate will be seven per cent on most goods and services in B.C., though some products like alcohol, hotel stays and various forms of transportation like some vehicles and boats will be taxed at higher rates.

The government website has stated that previously exempt items like groceries will continue to be exempt.