B.C. truckers high-five new tax

VICTORIA — Canada’s westernmost province is planning to harmonize its provincial sales tax with the federal GST next July and the trucking industry here stands to benefit from the idea.

At least that’s the word from the BC Trucking Association (BCTA) CEO Paul Landry. Landry added the BCTA’s voice to the list of supporters earlier this week.

By combining the 7 percent B.C. Provincial Sales Tax (PST) with the 5 percent federal Goods and Services Tax (GST), a single sales tax rate of 12 percent will be created. It will be referred to as a Harmonized Sales Tax or HST.

All other provinces with an HST, and the one proposed by Ontario, have a rate of 13 percent.

Similar to PST exemptions, the B.C. HST will provide consumers with point-of-sale rebates on a number of products including gas and diesel, which means consumers do not have to pay the provincial portion of the HST at the pump.

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell calls the move “the single biggest thing we can do to improve B.C.’s economy.”

The BCTA’s Landry meanwhile, said in an official statement that it will give the trucking industry boosts on several fronts: The harmonized tax should improve truck safety, reduce smog and GHG emissions and, he states, it will deliver on the promise of improving the province’s competitiveness stimulating job creation and enhancing B.C.s economic future.

According to Landry, the availability of input tax credits associated with the HST will reduce the effective tax on new investments in B.C. by 40 percent.

This, in turn, will encourage trucking companies to invest in trucks, trailers, safety and energy efficient technologies.

“By the time the HST is introduced in July 2010, many trucking companies will have deferred investments in new equipment for several years due to recessionary pressures,” states Landry. “Since the economy will be recovering and there will be pent-up demand for new equipment, the HST will grease the wheels of renewal.”

He continues: “The timing of the HST couldn’t be better for trucking. Trucks manufactured on or after July 1, 2010 will have to meet a new emission standard that will make them virtually smog-free.

“Most of the new engines will also be more fuel-efficient, thus reducing GHGs. Input tax credits will also make several expensive energy-efficient technologies, such as aerodynamic devices and low-rolling resistance tires, more affordable.

“Similarly, there are new advanced safety technologies such as vehicle-stability systems that reduce rollovers and electronic on board recorders that monitor driver hours of work that will be more affordable.

“Safety technologies and energy efficiency devices aren’t limited to new purchases. These can also be installed on existing equipment.

“Input tax credits (ITC) sounds technical and boring, and not particularly useful or productive. But in the hands of the trucking industry, ITCs will be parlayed into sound investments in new technologies, equipment and facilities that will help us to be safer and greener while improving our productivity and efforts to help the BC economy rebound.”

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