British Columbia's Minister of Transportation has confirmed that a proposed Metro Vancouver transit tax would be added to the provincial sales tax on receipts in the Lower Mainland.

Todd Stone sent a letter to the Mayor's Council on Transportation over the weekend saying the new tax would be harmonized with the PST.

If the tax is approved, Metro Vancouver shoppers will see a combined PST and transit tax totalling 7.5 per cent on their receipts.

It means Lower Mainland retailers would not have to change their systems to accommodate a new line item on receipts, which would have caused headaches for local businesses.

Vancouver bus riders

Metro Vancouver mayors have promised more rapid bus service such as the 99 B-Line bus, if the referendum passes. (Alan Stewart/CBC)

A referendum is set to begin next month on the proposed 0.5 per cent congestion improvement tax. 

The proposal to pay for transit improvements with a PST hike originated with the Metro Vancouver Mayor's Council and was passed by a majority of mayors in December.

The mayors of Burnaby, West Vancouver and Maple Ridge are opposed to the transit tax. 

The mayors' council, chaired by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, says it welcomes Stone's letter and it will not be requesting any further exemptions to the tax.

Take the poll: Do you support this proposed tax hike?

With files from the Canadian Press