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Taking away the tax collection commission even before the HST is introduced is unfair, says Jim Cormier of the Retail Council of Canada (CBC)

P.E.I. retailers are happy about the province's switch to harmonized sales tax, but larger retailers are crying foul over the loss of a commission they used to get to collect sales tax.

That was one of the complaints Finance Minister Wes Sheridan heard from the 75 people who turned out for a government-sponsored information session on the HST in Summerside Wednesday night. It was the largest crowd yet for the information sessions that are happening across the Island this summer.

Wednesday's meeting was aimed at the business community, which the government has said will receive major benefits from the move to HST.

Jim Cormier, director of the Atlantic division of the Retail Council of Canada, did not dispute that, but he did have a problem with a change connected to the switchover. For years, retailers were paid a commission of up to $500 a year for collecting PST. That commission was axed for the 1,500 largest vendors on the Island, and Cormier says that's just not fair.

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Finance Minister Wes Sheridan makes a point to the 75 people who gathered in Summerside to talk about the HST. (CBC)

"As of April of this year, the vendor commission no longer exists. But yet, oh and by the way, you're still obliged to collect the PST and submit it to the government for the next year," he said.

"It's not a really large sum of money but it's the principle of the thing."

Before April, businesses received back three per cent of the PST they collected, up to $500. Now, businesses that collect more than $10,000 PST get no commission. Those that collect less than $10,000 PST still get the three per cent, up to $300.

The change affects 1,500 stores; 4,000 are not affected.

Finance Minister Wes Sheridan said the commission was cut to help government balance its books, saving $770,000.

The HST will be introduced on P.E.I. on April 1, 2013.

Corrections

  • The vendor commission cut affects 1,500 of 5,500 businesses that collected it, not all of them as this story previously reported.
    Jul 05, 2012 3:41 PM AT