Nfld. & Labrador

Small businesses looking for more clarity, leniency on HST

An advocate for small business owners in Newfoundland and Labrador says it's unclear what sales tax rate will be adopted in the new year.
Vaughn Hammond, director of provincial affairs for the CFIB, says small business owners have been left in the dark when it comes to HST plans. (CBC)

An advocate for small business owners in Newfoundland and Labrador says it's unclear what sales tax rate will be adopted in the new year. 

"What we're looking for from the federal and provincial goverment is some clarity as well as flexibility in terms of what's going to happen come Jan. 1," said Vaughn Hammond, director of provincial affairs for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

The CFIB said it's pleased government is working to ensure the proposed harmonized sales tax increase will not come into effect. 

We now have less than three weeks ... - Vaughn Hammond, CFIB

But Hammond said small business owners are being left in the dark, and Canada Revenue Agency needs to make more details available.

Ultimately, Hammond said, business owners are tax collectors. 

As such, they need to know when to adjust cash registers, accounting software and other details. 

"You may have a catalogue and you may have to make sure the pricing within that catalogue is updated, otherwise there may be discrepancies and you may have to pay for those," he said. 

The organization that represents small business says owners need more information on what to charge in the new year. (CBC)

Hammond also wants to ensure that if a business owner is collecting tax on behalf of government, those businesses are protected in case of any miscommunication or confusion.

"It takes a bit of time. There might even be some cost involved," Hammond said in an interview. 

"We now have less than three weeks to meet whatever obligation federal and provincial governments want of small business owners."

"We just need an understanding — right now there's a little bit of confusion, there's lack of clarity [and] we just need that addressed right now."

First order of business

One of Dwight Ball's first orders of business after winning the Nov. 30 election was requesting the halt of the increase of HST to 15 per cent. 

The increase was supposed to come into effect on Jan. 1. The former PC government announced the hike in last spring's budget as a way to help the province's struggling finances.

The federal Department of Finance said it would take any necessary steps to stop the increase from happening on the scheduled date. 

With two and a half weeks left until the implementation date, the federation is looking for clear direction from CRA or the Newfoundland and Labrador government.

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