PST and GST return April 1 

Time running out for B.C. businesses to register for provincial tax number

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Change is coming – some good and some bad.

With the switch back to the Provincial Sales Tax/Goods and Services Tax April 1 from the Harmonized Sales Tax cyclists will get a break — saving about $35 on a $500 bike — but beer drinkers won't — the cost of their suds will stay about the same.

Most businesses in Whistler have been gearing up for the change for some time.

Sandy Black's Affinity Sports is ready for the return from the current harmonized system (HST) to the old two-tax system (PST and GST) on the purchase of most goods and services.

Black said it wasn't a big deal to make the change across the five businesses he registered with the Ministry of Finance.

"For us there's no net-change to the end price to the consumer," said the sports store operator. "For rental equipment our total price remains the same so there's no real impact on the guest, which is good."

Black and his team just needs to reprogram the in-store cash registers, and the online systems need to be updated on April 1.

"I was on it early," said Black. "I registered months and months ago."

But not everyone is as well prepared as Black and business leaders are concerned for those who put off registering their company with the ministry.

Fiona Famulak, president of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, is urging Whistler business owners and managers who haven't made plans for the change to do so as soon as possible.

"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 GST/PST when it occurs in less than one week's time," said Famulak. "We therefore urge all business owners, if they haven't already done so, to register now so the upcoming transition is a smooth one."

Canadian Federation of Business B.C.'s director of provincial affairs, Mike Klassen, said his organization has been in contact with many of its members.

"The vast majority of them have already registered," Klassen said. "The fact that every business has not registered for the PST yet is concerning, however."

John Winter, the president and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce said the PST transition seminars held in Whistler, Pemberton, Squamish and other communities across the province were successful.

"But we know that there are still many businesses that have not registered," said Winter.

Not just retail is affected by the change.

Pat Kelly, the owner and president of the Whistler Real Estate Company, said he has heard of a few cases of people holding off on real estate purchases until after April 1 because of potential savings due to the change. But, he added, he isn't expecting an artificial inflation on the market in the first week of April.

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