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BMO Financial Group

June 21, 2010 09:30 ET

BMO Survey: BC Business Owners Stand Divided on HST

HST savings will encourage investment, helping to boost productivity and competitiveness

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - June 21, 2010) - A new BMO (TSX:BMO)(NYSE:BMO) survey shows that B.C. business owners are split on how they anticipate they will be affected by the introduction of the harmonized sales tax (HST) on July 1, 2010.

The survey, conducted by Harris/Decima, found that while 41 per cent of B.C. business owners expect the impact will be negative, the same number believe it will have a positive effect.

"The B.C. Government estimates that the HST will save businesses in the province about $2 billion annually," said Sal Guatieri, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets. "The savings will encourage investment, helping to boost productivity and the province's competitiveness."

"Businesses in British Columbia will benefit by the implementation of HST as it will lower costs and should encourage investment in the province," said Richard Dendy, Commercial Banking Area Manager, Fraser Valley, BC, BMO Bank of Montreal. "But businesses will also have to make some adjustments so they are ready for the changes that will come with the HST."

Tips and Advice on Preparing for the HST Include:

Revise Your Budgets

Some items you would normally purchase and recover under the PST may not be recoverable with the HST, which could affect your budget. Conversely, most businesses that now sell GST-taxable goods and services, including exports, will be able to claim input tax credits (ITCs) for any HST paid on assets and expenses.

Adjust cash flow forecasts

Purchases that are currently exempt from PST, such as telephone equipment and computers or office supplies, will now impact HST which can be claimed as an ITC. The cash flow for your business may be affected because of the time interval between paying for the HST and getting the ITC refund. Take this lag into consideration and revise the projections for your cash flow.

Modify invoices

All invoices should be changed to include the new tax rate on applicable goods and services. They should state the proper rate, your GST/HST registration number and any other information that should be indicated according to ITC regulations.

Update your software

Review your accounting and invoicing software and be sure to include the 12 per cent tax where applicable. Other services you should consider updating include your point-of-sale system, cash registers, and online payment functions, as well as any automatic payments.

The Harris/Decima telephone poll was conducted from May 3rd to 19th, 2010 and is based on a sample of 427 Canadian businesses with between 50 and 499 employees and revenues between $5M and $75M annually. Results have been weighted against the known universe for such Canadian businesses. A sample size of 427 garners results that are accurate within ±4.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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