Tag Archives: HST

HST: One Week In & How It Affects the Little Guy

The provincial government’s disregard for the overwhelming dissent over the HST is no surprise. After all, Campbell has disregard the public in many ways since he took office, arrogantly being above the law even in his drunk driving charge. Let’s not get into all the politics but his minions…I mean ministers, have touted the HST and are now trying to tell us how good it will be, how it will create jobs, how it won’t affect the common person very much at all. So, let’s take a look at how it has affected me in one week.

  • I bought a bottle of wine at the liquor store. The liquor tax is gone and that was 10% but the HST is on there with 12%
  • I went out for dinner with friends. Whereas that used to have the liquor tax of 10% on the alcohol and the GST of 5% on the food, there is now 12% tax overall. I’m not sure I can figure out all the math but that means there is now 7% more tax on food and 2% more tax on alcohol.
  • I worked out at the gym. Whereas that just had GST before, it now has HST, an increase of 7% in taxes.
  • I bought a chocolate bar. This used to have 5% on it but now has HST of 12%. I am firmly opposed to any tax on food, whether it’s a luxury item or junk food because it says only the rich get to eat cake. I guess we could call Harper’s government the Marie Antoinette of era. I just wonder when we can lop off the head.
  • I pay for parking at my job. Now this one is the killer. TransLink, an arm of the provincial government upped all parking taxes (whether monthly parking, part of your apartment, on the street or at your job) from 7% to 21%. They said they weren’t raising the PST because that didn’t stand for provincial sales tax; it stood for parking sales tax, but still an increase of 14% on January 1st. Well, guess what, there are other hidden taxes, plus HST and someone I know who works in the business says that taxes on parking anywhere are now 35.5%! How’s that for a hefty hidden extra tax. If you pay $5 for an hour of parking it will cost you $6.78. Now multiply that by your monthly rate. If you pay $100, with taxes you pay $135.50.

This is just one week’s worth of taxes going up. I’m really really waiting for the provincial government to convince me on how it won’t affect me much and actually bring in jobs. They say it but they don’t say how or where. I’d love to hear how other average people are being affected by this.

Update September: You’ll pay more for postage in BC because of the HST. That’s Canadian postage, which should be the same price across Canada but it isn’t. Candy and other food that hits some esoteric guideline; it’s now double taxed. Keys…need one cut, you’ll now pay more in GST. Did I mention that parking in Greater Vancouver is taxed with 35% taxes? Can’t figure it out; ask your government how PST and GST equals that rate.

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HST? May Be Your Friend

It may be your friend, but not mine. I’m listening to BC’s Minister Colin Hansen giving a good impression of double-speak right now on the radio. When one woman asked him exactly how she was going to save if the industries like mining were for the HST he said how much savings would be passed on to other businesses. Wow. So that’s how that woman is going to save. Just like we all saved and saw prices drop when the GST was put in. Nope. We didn’t.

He likes to say that they’re removing the PST (7%) and putting on the HST (12%), and tries to make it sound like they’re doing us a favor. Food that is now exempt from GST will continue to be but he doesn’t say that food now being taxed (cookies, chips, chocolate bars; those items considered “luxury” items and therefore not for the poor to afford) will now have 12% instead of 5%. A $1 chocolate bar would have cost you $1.05 but will now cost $1.12. Not much but when you start adding up other items it will get costly.

Like buying a new home. Like going to the gym. I now will have to pay both GST and PST (oops sorry, that means I’m only paying HST not two taxes but it equals two taxes) to go to the no-frills community gym.

For restaurants, the minister said a provincial consumption tax is charged in other restaurants but BC and Saskatchewan. So, what does this mean? We’re not being taxed enough so should get more taxes and that justifies the HST. When the GST came in it was supposed to cancel all those other taxes but there has always been the alcohol tax at 10% on your restaurant bill, plus that 7% PST. Or was it GST. Has anyone been able to track how many ways our government taxes us?

The provincial government that Hansen represents plans to be generous now with that new HST coming in onto the  restaurants. They’re so generous they’re lowering the alcohol tax from 10% to 7%; and don’t forget you’ll not be paying 5% on food now but 12%. Plus it’s unclear if we’re paying 12% on alcohol plus 7%. If so, that nearly 20% on top of the cost of alcohol. But let’s say it’s just the one tax on booze and the one super, mega lumped together tax on food. What we have is 12% plus 7% so it’s still 19% plus 15% tips added so you’re looking at a minimum of 34% on top of your dinner, making a bill of $50 going to cost you $17 for a total of $67. But that’s only if taxes aren’t doubled on the booze. If it is, then we’re looking at 19% tax on booze, plus 15% tax on food plus 15% tip on all of that. I wonder how many people are walking around with accountants in their pockets so that they can figure out how much they ow on a bill.

Though Hansen claimed it will affect very few things, and somehow could not name how we would have any savings, he did say that about 25% of British Columbians will get HST cheques that will equal what, $30 per person? I think? I hope I misheard because it will cost more than that in a couple of months. So that’s the low and “some” middle income people, as he said. But not everyone, not most of us.

Consider that every year we have to calculate our income tax and it’s taken off  of our paychecks so most people pay between 20-30% taxes on what they make. But that’s not enough so now we get to pay at least another 15% tax on things we buy. How will this immediately affect you and me? Good question. The government and Colin Hansen have couched so much in doublespeak that it’s not clear. But I can tell you that I’ll be hit the next time I buy a gym pass, when I go to a restaurant, should I buy a cake or a pie, or a new home. Will liquor in liquor stores go down if the alcohol tax is being lowered? I’m kind of doubting it.

I’d love to hear how we will save so much money. When did a tax ever give the working person more money? And I would love to know how they see this as generating new jobs, except for those counting the coffers for the government. And this coming from a government that hasn’t raised the minimum wage in 9 years, and has one of the lowest in the country.

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The Terrible Thing About April

Actually, I quite like April for several reasons. It’s usually spring in one form or another and blossoms and bright colors abound, trees are pushing out tender green leaves, and everything is fresh and new after the winter. Even here in Vancouver, where yes, the grass truly is always green. However, the terrible thing about April is “taxes.”

For Canada, the deadline is April 30. I get to try to get the taxes done before my birthday might come along. Sometimes I’m late and sometimes I’ve very late. Because I’m claiming various professional activities like writing and copy editing, I have to keep all my receipts. I was claiming as a writer long before I started doing copy editing. In Canada, we have this rule that if you’re an artist (pick any art you want) and you don’t realize a profit in your lifetime, but you are trying to sell your work in one way or another, you can claim your expenses.

For writing, this can mean anything to do with art and submitting work to publishers/magazines: software, books, movies, postage, paper, office supplies, etc. I just have to prove, should I ever get audited, that I was trying to make a profit. I do this by keeping rejection and acceptance slips, or the emails. Every once in a while, I weed through those papers and toss out a few, but I keep seven years worth, just in case.

But taxes are still a terrible thing and on the news today they said that Canadians on average are giving away 40% of their income to taxes. So you have to work half your time just to pay the government. And of course, we do our yearly taxes, which includes federal and provincial taxes but on top of that we pay daily GST and PST on top of those taxes. And should you own a house or other property, you have those taxes. It seems as if we cannot turn around without being taxed. And just think, federal tax is not a hundred years old yet. It was put into place by them Prime Minister Borden as a temporary war measures act.

See how permanent temporary measures can be. And even on top of income tax, came provincial sales taxes and then the GST, yet another tax on our pockets. I bet good ole Brian Mulroney told that that tax was temporary too. And imagine this, for centuries countries existed without taxes. Okay, sure they had tithes, and peasants feeding nobles who galloped around in their finery and shot deer for fun. But at least you could have a peasant uprising then. Now, we’re cowed and bleat futility as we pay those taxes.

And then the provincial and federal governments want to combine all those taxes and tax on things so far not taxed. And somehow they say this will make jobs? I’m not sure how except maybe in the tax department.

So…taxes. It takes me three nights to do it, mostly from procrastination. I do my taxes online now, even if I am claiming more than the standard form. Online is faster when it comes to calculations but Quicktax doesn’t always give explanations for those claiming professional and business activities. So I have to remember that I can claim two conventions a year because I won’t find the information there. For someone just starting out to claim artist expenses and using the online system, it might be better to buy their business packet. But I still use the standard and usually manage well. Unless Revenue Canada thinks I’ve miscalculated, which can only really happen if I enter something in the wrong section. And since capital gains and other areas aren’t explained really clearly, it’s not that hard to do.

Still, even with screwing up this year and not putting money into an RRSP, I will still get money back. It’s better to put the money into RRSPs though because it does cut down on money being sucked into the government. Not that you won’t end up paying that tax when you eventually take them out so it’s not really a big savings.

I hate doing taxes like most of us. I hate seeing how much money is sucked away and I can understand why some people go to live on the street or squat because you can work less and still survive. Such a lot of the big wheel moving round and round. I think we have complicated our world too much, but then again would we all want to work in fields growing our food and building our homes from wood? I think we’ve gone too far the other way though and some simplification and less taxation would help. It’s one thing to have services and resources. It’s another thing to be snowed under the avalanche of costs before even being able to hold a roof over your head.

April comes with trepidation and some relief when the taxes are done. For me, that refund won’t be spent until I know it’s accurate, and then it will probably pay down those bills.

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Vancouver Goes Puritan Over Booze

Port cities are often more cosmopolitan that interior cities. This has been an age-old pattern, common where sailors and merchants from many lands came to sell exotic and unusual wares. People of various races as well as different customs would mingle in such a city and tolerance for difference was greater. It was true in the 8th century, the 15th century and is true today.

Vancouver, being a port city is more liberal in many things and culturally mixed for various reasons. You might almost expect it to be European in sentiment. By European I mean the easy laissez-faire of open patios, siestas, late night restaurants and drinking. This doesn’t give way to the degeneration of society but to an acceptance of a natural flow. The more taboo, bad or wrong something is deemed to be, in the eyes of the law, the more people will resist against it if it doesn’t feel right. And so it is with the puritan bylaws on selling alcohol and staying open late.

I had the chance, a few years back, to be in Montreal for a convention. We ended up going off to pubs and restaurants when the hotel bar closed up. From what I could tell the pubs and drinking establishments have a soft closing time that seems to be when the bartender wants to go home. We didn’t get to bed before 4 am any night and we were in pubs and restaurants. No one that I saw got overly rowdy but those of us who started our evening late or wanted to party a bit longer were able to do so. It was fun and nice to know that you didn’t have to be partying by 9  and out of the lounge by midnight.

Cinderella still continues to visit Vancouver, often having to be home by midnight, or the restaurants having to close up by this rather early time. This bylaw of early closings has been fought for years but for some reason City Hall wants to keep the draconian mindset. The only exception has been nightclubs in the downtown core on Granville Street. The problem is that many people don’t like nightclubs where fights among the 20-something set seem more common and therefore a search is de rigueur. Parking is hard to find and expensive (moreso because the City isn’t fulfilling its mandate of supplying affordable parking) and many people would rather stay in their neighborhoods where they can walk and avoid driving while drinking.

The City has had this unfair favoritism for about five years now. On top of the early closings and ways of tamping down culture with any place that has live music made to stop at midnight, the City Hall brain children have figured out a new bylaw. This one is the height of stupidity and outmoded thinking. The City, as of January (just in time for the Olympics, folks) wants all restaurants to have their alcohol sales equal their food sales. Fifty-fifty. So that means if you go in and have a $12-burger and want two ciders at $7 each, you’ll only be allowed one. Or if you go for dinner with a friend, say each spending $20 on food, you’ll only be allowed a $40 bottle of wine, not anything higher, nor more than one bottle.

Perhaps Vancouver’s eggheads feel that everyone is too thin and needs to eat more? Perhaps they want to promote beer or the cheapest swill only. That’s what we’re going to get. (Let’s not even mention Campbell’s monster, the HST, that will suck enough extra money and make going out a thing of the past.) Restaurants always make their money on the alcohol and without those profits we’ll see restaurants going the way of the dodo. Smart move, Mr. Mayor and all your cronies. Where have you put your brains?

The smart thing to do would be to let restaurants and clubs stay open longer across the city and allow them to serve alcohol. A fifty-fifty rule will kill the industry. Some cosmopolitan city we’ll have, where arts and culture are already suffering extreme cuts to the point of nonexistence. This will surely pull in tons of revenue that the city is somehow anticipating for the Olympics. Apologies, Madame et Monsieur, that wine is too expensive. Please try our special plonk instead. Oh and only two glasses each. Sorry, no dessert wine without dessert.

Now I’ve always said that if you don’t vote you can’t complain and I didn’t get a chance to vote in the last civic election so I guess I deserve what I get. However, I’m sure many of the restaurant owners did vote and they are extremely unhappy. My suggestion to the cogs that run Vancouver is to take a look at the great European cities, at Montreal and other places, and see what they do and how they handle restaurants and alcohol sales. Maybe the bible thumpers will get upset but then they don’t have to go to the restaurants. But we’re not going to have an all-out booze orgy unless they keep the drinking only on Granville Street where young guys congregate and drink too much. Spread it out and make it more like the local pubs of Great Britain and Ireland.

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There is No Harmonization to Campbell’s New Tax

Gordon Campbell’s two-faced Liberals want to bring in a tax that they say they had no idea about three months ago. If this is in fact true I’d have to say this party is pretty poor in long-term planning. Long-term planning that raised and then took off a half percent on our PST (2004). Poor planning in giving everyone a pre-election bribe of $100. Poor planning in the Olympics, embroiling our tax dollars into it, and then going, oh gosh it’s overbudget. I could have told them this three years ago.

Was ever a word so misused as to take two taxes and call it harmonization? GST, the government tax, covers many things but not food (unless you’re buying a bag of nachos or cookies because the government decided that was unnecessary. Oh and you can buy two cookies and pay GST but not if you buy six, unless it’s a bag, like a bulk thing. If you figure this out, let me know, but the feds have been taxing our food choices for a long time.) So GST hits many things.

And then there’s PST, the provinicial sales tax. It also hits some things but not always the same things as the GST. Some of the items usually exempt are books, children’s clothing and footwear, vitamins, dietary supplements and food for human consumption. But if you’re at a restaurant that food is charged GST because it’s a service, I think. It’s never made a lot of sense.  Here is a list of what is currently PST exempt (not a full list) but will possibly have the HST on them: PSTexemptions

One glib quote by the Tourism Minister was: “The HST is going to be good for all concerned, but there are going to be exceptions,” intoned B.C. Tourism Minister Kevin Krueger. (seattlepi.com) Hmm, good for all but there are exceptions, like every consumer out there. Basically you and me, unless you’re big business. And one minister said something like, all the provinces have done this HST, except that Alberta, NWT, Yukon and Nunavut have no provincial tax. Only New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador and Nova Scotia have an HST. That is hardly all of the other provinces by far. And remember, we pay these taxes as we buy things and then when we do income tax we pay federal and provincial tax at that time as well.

Facebook already has over 100,000 members protesting the NO BC HST. A recent poll puts people opposing the HST at 87%. How does the government think this is fair when it’s not even an extra percent we’ll be paying on many items (which include such things as condo fees). It’s not even 5% more, the rate of the GST, which would be exorbitant. It’s 7%, which is more than double. Imagine going out for dinner and you know how a bill for $60 often has an extra $10 of tax on it? Well, that will be now an extra $20 in tax. Will I be going out as much? No. And the same will happen to many people. Or they’ll go out an pay less in tips because of the extra cost. This will of course impact the restaurant and entertainment industry, where people will then be laid off because business has slowed.

Those exempt school books and kids’s clothes? No more. It’s already a shame that we have tax on books and food in any form but you’ll probably not be buying a bag of chips when you’re paying 12% on the price of the bag. Because the government has given warning but not bothered to discuss this first, there is huge backlash. And really what is the reasoning for increasing our taxes by 7% on things? Deficit. Campbell screwed up.

I can’t even get into the fiasco of the Olympics and how so many things weren’t reported on and budgets were not revealed. How many aspects are costing waaay more than anticipated (because they didn’t want to shock the taxpayers)? The City of Vancouver raised the price of their city parking as a way to gather more revenue for their part of the Olympics. Campbell, well he’s not admitting he screwed up, but he’ll just charge us extra so he can pay off the Olympic deficit.

If you want to pay more, sit back and be harmonized. If not, then do everything you can. Complain, contact your MLA and MP. Writer letters. But if you think the protests and petitions will change the tune that Campbell is singing, think again. When he made massive cuts in his first reign, there were 40,000+ people who protested in person, and Campbell just continued scything through jobs. And lest people forget, he tore up union contracts of hospital workers, subsequently causing the cleanliness of hospitals to deteriorate more, and was found by the courts to be in the wrong, but that was years later, even if those people had to be compensated. He probably saved himself a few bucks doing that.

So, I’m just saying, Campbell is very close to all those dictators, who do what they want, trumping it up as “good for the people who don’t know what’s good for them”. And even if the people protest vehemently, it will make no difference. Just watch and see.

Oh and if you didn’t vote in the last election, no matter what you voted, then it’s your fault. With 50% voter turnout it could have changed things, or maybe not. But if you don’t vote you don’t have the right to complain because you didn’t try and do anything about it.

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