As Burnaby businesses prepare to return to the provincial sales tax and goods and services tax on April 1, there is an air of philosophical resignation, even from business owners who were highly critical of the HST referendum results.
Kalpna Solanki, president of FX-Foods Inc., was disappointed following the referendum in the summer of 2011.
Though she would have preferred a different result, she is prepared for the shift back, she said in a recent interview.
"We don't really have many concerns about it," she said.
That doesn't mean she's changed her position on the issue, though, she added.
"I personally think it was a bad move, to switch back to the GST/PST. From a business perspective it was just simpler having one tax," Solanki said.
But it is important to pick your battles carefully, she added.
"This is a forgone conclusion; it's going to happen. You've just got to go with it and not stress out about it because there's nothing I can do," she said. "So we might as well work with it because it's inevitable, the people have spoken, and that's how it is. As a business owner, we work with it."
The transition itself isn't an issue, Solanki said.
"In terms of how we do things, I don't really see an impact on us at all," she said.
Jenny Siormanolakis, whose family runs Romana Restaurant, was also disappointed at the results of the referendum.
The harmonized sales tax had a negative effect on the business when it was first introduced, she said in an interview in 2010. But changing back to the two-tax system will be expensive for taxpayers, she added in a follow-up interview after the referendum.
After 40 years of business, the family is prepared for just about anything from the government, she said in a recent interview.
"Let it come," she said of the transition date. "We've been around for 40 years' worth of government. Whatever they've thrown at us, we've still been able to survive."
Before July 1, 2010, restaurant meals only had the five per cent GST added to the bill.
The 12 per cent HST combines the seven per cent provincial sales tax and the five per cent federal goods and service tax.
As of April 1, restaurants will again only charge five per cent GST.
The restaurant is preparing for the change, she said.
"When it comes, we're obviously going to have to be adaptable and ready," Siormanolakis added.
But rather than jumping back-and-forth between different taxation systems, the government should be focusing on supporting small businesses in the province, she said.
"For the economy to be good, they have to start, first off, by supporting those small businesses," she added.
While the sales tax percentage on his vehicles will remain the same, Sean Kumagai, general manager of Metrotown Mazda, is concerned about the input tax credit restriction that is part of the return to PST.
The temporary restrictions are on tax credits for certain purchases of goods and services for large businesses, and will be in place for at least five years unless the province's fiscal situation changes, according to a government website on the PST.
"The biggest impact for me will be the loss of the input tax credit on the provincial portion of my expenses, making me worse off financially," Kumagai wrote in an email to the NOW. "Because most of my business is retail consumers, I don't foresee a big push of people trying to push through purchases to claim the additional input tax credit prior to the change."
The paperwork during the transition will also be a headache, he added.
"Also, for me there's the added burden of having to file an additional return,' he wrote.
The Burnaby Board of Trade has created a reference page on its website for the transition at bbot.ca/pst-transition.
Paul Holden, president and CEO of the board, said businesses are mostly looking for clarification of what will change.
"I think the concerns we're hearing are primarily around the area of people just wanting to know exactly what they need to know to help their own businesses transition as smoothly as possible," he said.
The board is hosting Making the Switch - a PST Transition Seminar for members on Feb. 7 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the Best Western Coquitlam Inn and Convention Centre, at 319 North Rd.
Mark Worrall, a charted accountant with KPMG, will be providing information for businesses on what they need to do before April 1, according to the board's website. The event is free for members.
B.C. Minister of State for Small Business, Naomi Yamamoto, will also be speaking at a business breakfast on Jan 24, according to Holden.
"Though it's not the only thing she's talking about, certainly an important part of her presentation is talking to small businesses about the transition to PST," he said.
The event takes place from 7:30 to 9:15 a.m. at the Riverway Clubhouse at 9001 Bill Fox Way. Tickets are $30 for members and $45 for non-members.
Register online at www.bbot.ca through the Events section, call 604-412-0100 or email email@example.com to register for either event.
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