HST in Ontario

My Dad once said that if your biggest complaint in life is that you think your taxes are too high, you really don't have any problems.

Having said that, I have no idea how the Government of Ontario thinks they're doing its citizens a service by implementing the so-called HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) next summer.

For those of you who live outside Ontario, this refers to aligning the 5% GST (Goods & Services Tax), an already-existing value-added tax levied by the national government, with the 8% PST (Provincial Sales Tax), a retail sale tax levied by the Province of Ontario.

The GST applies to almost everything: not only retail, wholesale and distribution transactions but also pretty much any fee-for-service, including performance fees charged by people like me. The PST currently applies pretty much only to goods: prepared foods, clothes, computers, CDs... you get the idea.

Harmonization means that any service previously subject only to the 5% GST, like funerals, tradesperson’s fees - and of particular relevance to me, my performance fees (not to mention gasoline, heating oil, electricity) - are going to be suddenly 8% higher.

Of course, performers in my boat are negotiating with presenters who are suddenly paying 8% more to heat, supply and maintain their venues in a time of already-declining attendance and reduced revenues. 

So we're going to have to eat it. And we'll have paid 8% more to put gas in the van to get us to the gig.

This in an economic climate where everybody in the performing arts has already taken their hit, like everybody else. Attendance everywhere has been down for over a year now, venues are closing and presenters are disappearing.

I fail to see who this is going to help, but I certainly know a lot of people who will be hurt by it. The timing couldn't be worse.


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