Business organizations offering PST planning sessions 

HST will be scrapped in April, replaced by GST and PST

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Businesses are being urged to get ready for the transition out of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) in B.C. and back to Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST).

"Given the importance of tax systems to a business's overall operations and its customer experience, it is imperative that Whistler businesses are ready for the transition to PST when it occurs in 10 weeks time," said Fiona Famulak, president of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.

"The Whistler Chamber of Commerce wants to ensure that business owners have all the information they need for a seamless transition and therefore urges all businesses to read the various PST resources available on the chamber website and to attend the information session... "

Those interested in attending should contact the chamber. The session on Jan.30 is full but a wait list has been created for further seminars or information sharing.

Owners need to register for the PST in preparation for a return to the tax system in place before the HST was introduced in B.C. after the last provincial election.

The B.C. Ministry of Finance is also offering a free two-hour information session to Whistler businesses on Jan. 30, starting at 9 a.m.

Demand for the Jan. 30 chamber session in Whistler was so high the chamber is looking for a larger venue than its boardroom to host the session.

"Details of the new venue will be posted on the chamber's website this week and all those already registered will be updated by email," wrote Famulak in an email message to Pique.

Two similar sessions will be offered to business operators in Squamish and Pemberton the day before. Both sessions are set to start at 2 p.m. The Pemberton seminar will be held at the Pemberton Community Centre while the Squamish Adventure Centre is the location in Squamish. There is more information on all three sessions at websites for each chamber of commerce.

The first step in preparing for the taxation shift is to register for the PST. There are three avenues to register — by mail or fax, in person at a Service BC Centre or online. Details of the three options are outlined at www.pstinbc.ca and information can be obtained by phone through a toll-free information number set up by the Ministry of Finance. The phone number is 1-877-388-4440.

The minister of state for small business, Naomi Yamamoto, has encouraged business operators to register online now.

"This early opportunity to register online is just one of the ways government is working with businesses to help them transition back to the PST," said Yamamoto, through a news release. "We're also offering webinars, PST seminars, extended hours for phone assistance and special consultations with tax specialists."

Mike de Jong, the minister of finance, indicated the provincial government is making it as easy as possible to move from the current system back to separate provincial and federal taxes.

"Our government is committed to ensuring businesses have the support they need to make a smooth transition back to the PST," said de Jong. "We're reaching out with improvements like online registration so that they can focus on running successful businesses."

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