Back to PST

Trips to the grocery store could cost you a little less following the reintroduction of the provincial sales tax system today.

By Jennifer Stahn

Consumers can look forward to paying a little less while shopping today, April 1, as the PST is ushered back in officially making harmonized sales tax a blip in the history of B.C.

Many items will see little to no change in tax amounts but there are several notable categories that will leave shoppers with a little more money in their wallets – including books, magazines, food producing plants and snack foods.

For the most part the change from HST to PST will have little effect on consumers as the 12 per cent tax reverts back to the combined five per cent GST and seven per cent PST most items saw prior to the adoption of HST in July 2010, though several items – such as alcohol - were actually cheaper under the HST rate.

The B.C.government implemented the HST program in 2010 and a year later British Columbians took part in a province-wide referendum, voting to eliminate the HST and return to the PST/GST system. New measures were recommended to the government to improve the PST and in May 2012 a new Provincial Sales Tax Act - featuring improvements to online access for businesses and the incorporation of hotel room tax, was introduced.

The province has been offering webinars, consultations and seminars across the province over the past three months to help businesses better transition back to the PST system and will continue to hold webinars throughout April as businesses adapt to the recent changes in the program.

Items not subject to PST that will cost less to purchase:

  • Electronic books, most newspapers, some school supplies and most magazines
  • Insulation, weather stripping, caulking and smoke detectors (residential)
  • First aid kits
  • Food producing plants and trees
  • Adult sized clothing for children under 15-years-old, used clothing/footwear
  • Snack foods, prepared foods (including restaurant meals)
  • Taxi fares
  • Camping Sites
  • Domestic air, rail and bus travel originating in B.C.
  • New homes, real estate commissions
  • Drugs and medicines, vitamins and supplements
  • Admission fees
  • Memberships (such as golf or gym), cultural or sport lessons
  • Bicycles, safety sport helmets, children's ski gloves and boots
  • Hockey rink and hall rentals
  • Services: to household appliances and goods, household cleaning, repair, maintenance and renovation of real property, landscaping services to real property (including snow removal), massage therapy, fitness training, hair stylist/barber, esthetician, veterinarian, accounting, interior design, catering/event planning, wedding planning, funeral, delivery and courier (not related to the sale or lease of taxable goods), home security monitoring, computer software repair, basic cable television, local residential land line phone, shoe repair, tailoring services and dry cleaning

Items costing more to purchase:

  • Alcoholic beverages – will increase to 10 per cent PST plus GST (same as prior to HST)
  • Short term accommodations (hotels) - eight per cent PST plus GST (same as prior to HST)
  • Purchase of used vehicle from non-GST registrants private seller - 12 per cent PST, no GST (previously was 7-10 per cent PST, no GST and during HST phase no HST was charged but was subject to 12 per cent provincial tax)
  • Purchase boat or non-turbine aircraft – 12 per cent PST, no GST (previously seven per cent PST, no GST and during HST phase no HST was charged but was subject to 12 per cent provincial tax)
  • Parking (South Cost B.C. Service region only) – GST plus 21 per cent Translink Parking Tax (same as prior to HST)

While cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and nicotine replacement products are not subject to PST, they will still remain the same cost as a provincial tobacco tax will be adjusted to keep the overall tax on tobacco constant.

To contact a reporter for this story, email or call (250) 819-3723.

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