The harmonized sales tax (HST) that was implemented in Ontario last summer was designed to combine both GST and PST, making it a value added tax. This means that the value is only added by the business providing the goods or services to consumers. It attempts to avoid a situation where products are taxed repeatedly throughout the production process, as done with PST. This results in lower costs at the final stage of production.
The government has also projected economic growth by bringing in HST. It is said to encourage long-term growth, increase sales and profits in the retail, service and food industries over time.
With HST in place, there are benefits for businesses that were not there before. The first benefit is that it gives businesses a more competitive edge. With one sales tax regime in place, it is less costly for companies to deal with the paperwork and associated filing to be done. Also, with costs being cut by the elimination of PST, businesses are able to be more competitive in their pricing strategies.
Another benefit to businesses is that HST is fully recoverable, like GST. Businesses will get back any HST they pay as it is designed to be a value added tax to be paid by consumers. So any supplies or services a business buys for business use can be claimed back from the government.
However, not all businesses in Ontario will benefit immediately to the full Input Tax Credits (ITC’s) of 13%. Large businesses with over $10 million in taxable supplies are not able to recover the amounts of HST they pay for goods and services for business use. Many of these businesses such as financial institutions, municipalities, charities, universities, colleges and schools, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. have been restricted from claiming ITCs for the provincial portion of the HST, until 2015.
Although it looks like we are paying more tax, as a small to medium business, you are paying less than under the old tax system. More amounts are being recovered than before, and costs are being cut too, making the smaller businesses more competitive.
For more details, or for a detailed list of the products and services the HST affects, visit CRA website.