Taxation was the talk around towns in British Columbia and Ontario after the governments of both provinces announced their plans to harmonize their provincial sales tax with the federal GST. While the HST debates calmed down in recent months; parliamentary debate was reignited this week as the Ontario government introduced Bill 218, the enabling legislation for the harmonized sales tax. Once the bill was introduced, opposition parties resorted to filibuster techniques in an attempt to delay its quick passage through the Ontario parliament.
As the legislation moved to second reading yesterday, parliamentary debate reached a fevered pitch and several opposition members were expelled from the legislature for their use of unparliamentarily language. To read more about the debate click here
In the end, the HST legislation passed the second reading vote. The status of the Bill can be found here, under Bill 218
Amidst all of the parliamentary commotion CARP met with opposition legislators and government officials to propose that Ontario follow the lead of Atlantic provinces by extending mitigation of the HST on home energy costs through rebate, exemption or tax credit for seniors based on income and providing a permanent relief grant for seniors based on income.
Meanwhile, in British Colombia the enabling legislation for the HST has yet to be introduced. An official from the ministry of finance confirmed that the legislation will most likely be forthcoming on March 2, 2010 when the BC government introduces its second budget. In related news, Finance Minister Colin Hansen announced yesterday that buyers of new homes in British Columbia will not have to pay the provincial portion of the harmonized sales tax for the first $525,000 of purchase price, up from the previous ceiling of $400,000, pushing the maximum rebate to $26,250 from $20,000. In the near future, CARP will also make a proposal for HST mitigation for seniors in BC. Stay tuned to CARPActionOnline for developments on this story.
While the government of British Columbia and Ontario press ahead with their plans for harmonization, Manitoba Finance Minister Rosann Wowchuck indicated yesterday that the HST would not be included in the province’s next provincial budget. To read more about this story click here