[SUMMERSIDE, PE] — While the provincial government maintains its stand against a harmonized tax, membership in the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce have gone on record in support of a blended Goods and Services Tax and Provincial Sales Tax.
Chamber executive director Bill Schurman said the chamber has resurrected a survey the organization compiled in 2009 and will be revisiting the issue in the near future.
“This goes back a couple of years but basically the results are 52 per cent of the respondents to the survey, and we had a good response, feel that P.E.I.’s current tax system GST/PST puts their business at a disadvantage compared to other Canadian provinces,” Schurman said. “Sixty-nine per cent of respondents indicate they are in favour of having one sales tax system nationwide. Seventy-one per cent indicated that as business owners, they are generally in favour of P.E.I. harmonizing its PST and its GST.”
But there was a significant difference between the 71 per cent approval rate among chamber members who are business owners and the 55 per cent approval rate among consumers.
“There’s the gap between business owners and individuals and consumers,” he said. Still, “they are generally in favour of P.E.I. harmonizing its tax,” and “69 per cent of those responding felt they had enough information to give their opinion.”
Schurman said that survey was passed on to provincial Finance Minister Wes Sheridan.
“Obviously, it’s becoming a little more of an agenda item with the recent premiers’ meeting. We will revisit it (HST issue) at our next board meeting and gage our membership again. There haven’t been any submissions or… anyone suggesting that any of their opinions have changed.”
However, “The Province is still against it.”
Schurman said that during the consultations, chamber members also indicated they would expect the provincial government to negotiate some exemptions.
He added that while harmonization of taxes is good for business, many consumers don’t see it in the same light, particularly when not all services are subject to both taxes now.
Results from a 2009 survey conducted by the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce...
71% of business owners favour harmonizing GST and PST
55% of individuals and consumers favour harmonizing GST and PST
52% say GST/PST tax system puts them at a disadvantage nationwide
69% favour a one sales tax system nationwide
70% want exemptions for the business community on the input of heat and electrical costs
69% say they have sufficient information on the HST to assess its impact on their business