TORONTO, Ont. — With Ontario consumers bracing for the implementation of the new Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), which will make many items such as gas more expensive, the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) and other business groups teamed up to ease the public’s fears during a media event at Queen’s Park.
The OTA was joined at the media briefing, organized by the Smart Tax Alliance, by the Ontario and Canadian Chambers of Commerce, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters and other business groups.
The HST is set to go into effect July 1. While Ontario consumers have been mostly passive, the issue has created a political firestorm in B.C., where an HST is also set to go into effect.
OTA chief David Bradley made the case for the HST during his remarks:
“It’s good for the trucking industry; it’s good for the competitiveness of Ontario goods that move by truck – and that’s most of what is produced in the province – and its good tax policy. Outdated and non-uniformly applied taxes on business inputs distort marketplaces and investment decisions by the people and companies who create jobs,” Bradley said.
He noted that Ontario carriers have long had to compete with trucking firms from other jurisdictions that enjoy exemptions from truck equipment sales tax.
He referred to a study by the Rotman School of Business that found Ontario-based carriers were at a 31% tax disadvantage compared to truck fleets in Michigan, Ohio and New York, thanks in large part to the PST system.
Bradley also said truck fleets are slower to invest in new, environmentally-friendly equipment because of the current taxation system. And the three input tax system involving the PST, GST and the Multi-Jurisdictional Vehicle Tax (MJVT) is far too onerous, Bradley contended.
“The HST is not a hand-out to business,” Bradley concluded. “It is sound tax policy. It is the modernization of the sales tax system for business based on progressive, international tax norms. In trucking we still pay our fair share of taxes even on business inputs. There are still excise taxes on diesel fuel, various payroll taxes, and fees for licences and permits.”
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