B.C. gets interest break on HST transition

B.C. has five years to repay Ottawa its $1.6 billion transition payment, interest free.

B.C. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon

The B.C. and federal governments have agreed to a five-year interest-free repayment schedule for the $1.6 billion harmonized sales tax transition fund, but the deal does not change the province’s deficit position.

B.C. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon said Wednesday the interest break will save B.C. $118 million in interest costs, since the money doesn’t have to be borrowed all at once to repay by a March 31 deadline. Instead Ottawa will accept five annual transfers of $320 million each.

The entire repayment is still being charged to the province’s books in the current fiscal year, which ends this spring. Combined with reduced provincial revenues and slightly increased spending, B.C.’s deficit for this year is forecast to be $3.1 billion.

The terms of the referendum where voters opted out of the HST require the province to restore the PST with the charges and exemptions that existed prior to July 2010. A panel of tax experts has been appointed to review the PST for possible administrative efficiencies when it is reinstated in the spring of 2013.

When the HST was rejected, the finance ministry estimated it would bring in an additional $600 million in revenues in each of the next two years, based on economic growth and extending the seven-per-cent provincial portion of the sales tax to a variety of services.

Former premier Bill Vander Zalm, who spearheaded the petition to repeal the HST, said both the federal and provincial governments are dragging out the transition period to benefit their bottom line and that of businesses.

Businesses will have to forgo input tax credits available under the HST, and convert cash registers and accounting systems back to collecting the GST and PST separately. Low-income B.C. residents will lose HST rebates starting in 2013.

The total cost to B.C. of going back to the PST has been estimated at about $3 billion. In addition to the transition fund repayment, and the foregone extra revenue, B.C. has to re-establish a provincial sales tax administration and audit department.

About 300 provincial tax collectors were transferred to the federal payroll when the HST took effect in July 2010.

Transition rules for businesses switching from the HST back to the former provincial sales tax are expected to be announced by March 31, the end of the current fiscal year.

Just Posted

Home care complaints up 45% on Vancouver Island

Number of home care hours delivered down 6%, complaints up 45 %

Alberni group focuses on stigmatization as biggest barrier to opioid crisis

Community session planned to raise dialogue on opioid crisis response

Cherry Creek firefighters mourn former deputy chief

Brian Brick is the second Alberni Valley firefighter to die of work-related cancer in January

Port Alberni to consider the future of McLean Mill

City council will be holding a committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 21

VIDEO: Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Why would the B.C. legislature need a firewood splitter?

First sign of police involvement in investigation of top managers

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Judge annuls hairdresser’s forced marriage to boss’ relative

Woman was told she’d be fired if she didn’t marry boss’s Indian relative so he could immigrate here

Liberals look to make home-buying more affordable for millennials: Morneau

Housing is expected to be a prominent campaign issue ahead of October’s federal election

Cannabis-carrying border crossers could be hit with fines under coming system

Penalties are slated to be in place some time next year

Man accused of threatening to kill ‘as many girls as I see’

Christopher W. Cleary wrote he was angry because he’d never had a girlfriend and wanted to ‘make it right’ with a mass shooting

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

Lineup is full of new faces after the organization parted ways with 18 players over the off-season

Most Read