I am here to give my "biased" opinion on the upcoming provincial Harmonized Sales Tax. In case you've been busy canvassing for your local provincial Liberal candidate and haven't been paying attention to other real-time events, the HST is being touted as a cost-saving initiative for business owners and a "revenue neutral" tax for the benefit of all Ontarians. If you've bought into this party line, you may also be interested in a piece of ‘environmentally protected almost waterfront property' - insert smile here.
Seriously, from where I'm sitting, this tax appears to be similar to the largest tax grab in Canadian history ... yes, the GST all over again. In other words, a provincial consumer tax! Hopefully it will be more effective than the eHealth tax. You remember the one ... that temporary tax that helped fund huge salaries for officials, some of who were forced to resign for incompetence. This time the Queen's Park Highwaymen are going to rob you by applying tax on items that were never taxed at the provincial level before. These include home heating fuel, legal services, real estate services, home inspections, well driller reports, amongst many additional services that will affect homeowners and other consumers!
With this in mind, is it any wonder that websites such as http://www.stophst.com/ontario-hst/ have been stood up and organizations, including the Ontario Real Estate Association and the Ontario Home Builders Association, have lobbied for months to have the tax stopped, revised, or delayed? Unfortunately, the estimated $313 million in EXTRA tax dollars lifted from Ontarians through resale home transactions looks like it will come to fruition in July of this year. The timing will undoubtedly coincide with an increase in mortgage financing which will certainly put a damper on the value of your most prized asset ... presumably your house.
On the bright side, our ‘tax and spend' officials have given new home construction a ‘break'. It seems that new homes under $400K will get a rebate on the HST. In other words, pay the tax and then apply for the ‘luxury rebate'. Yet another paper chase that will involve employing more government employees to make it all happen. We have trouble maintaining adequate health care services in this province, but we have no trouble employing more tax collectors and redundant procedures.
Before I end my rant, I have to pay homage to all the 'Timmy Regulars' whose cry was heard on high. That is, food or beverages below $4.00 will NOT be taxed. Can you imagine the outrage if Dual Tone McGuinty had followed through and added another 8% on our morning fix? Tax on Timmy's seems unconstitutional at any level of government, but tax on basic shelter seems to be unending and applicable at all levels. Hopefully, I stop seeing red after the 2011 election.