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UPDATE - Province returns to old sales tax today

Store co-owner Debra Thurlow said reduced magazine and candy prices are good but increased tobacco costs are bad. She commented on today's removal of the HST in B.C.
April 01, 2013 - 1:38 PM

By Shannon Quesnel

Snack food and movie tickets just got cheaper today. No, it's not an April Fool's joke.

Businesses will now be returning to the former seven per cent PST after taking the past two-and-a-half years getting used to the HST which added the five per cent GST – the federal goods and services tax – with the provincial sales tax.

Food in restaurants, including coffee, will take a price drop, along with new children's clothing, children's shoes, used clothing, newspapers, magazines, basic television cable service, landline phone service, taxi fares, safety helmets and hair stylist service.

New homes are arguably the most affected item. Buyers will only be charged five per cent instead of 12% on the cost of a new home.

And tobacco costs will remain the same as the province will adjust tobacco tax rates to keep the overall tax constant.

Over-the-counter drugs will take a tax cut. And starting today the cost of generic drugs drops from 35 per cent to 25 per cent of the brand name price. This is a result of the Pharmaceutical Services Act which became law in 2012.

The majority of goods and services will still cost the same but businesses will have to tally two separate taxes and register with the government to be able to charge PST. It's been reported 25,000 businesses have not done so.

“Hopefully it will help the business owner,” Rishma Sharma said. She owns the 24/7 convenience store on Main Street. When the HST was created in B.C. she said she felt the impact. Now that it is gone she hopes for more business.

“It's hard to say. All you can do is wait and see.”

D' n J's Stop 'N Shop owners have mixed feelings.

Co-owner Debra Thurlow said magazine and snack food price drops will be good. It is the tobacco prices she is upset with. The province might have removed the HST but it added another tax. A carton of tobacco will now cost $5.60 in taxes.

Thurlow said the province also demands all tobacco sellers pay the government the tax value of all existing tobacco stock. This will cost her thousands of dollars.

“We ended up paying more to the (government),” she said. “What a lot of hassle for business people.”

Pilates teacher Mary Jeanne said she hopes business will pick up now that fitness prices have come down.

At the Superstore on Main Street one mother said it was a good thing the HST was removed from children's clothing. A father named Kevin echoed her statement.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Quesnel at squesnel@infotelnews.ca or call 250-488-3065.

News from © iNFOnews, 2013

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