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The plan, which is to be confirmed by legislative motion, is to reduce the total HST rate to 10 per cent from 12 per cent in two stages. The provincial portion would be cut by one percentage point to six per cent from seven per cent on July 1, 2012. A further one percentage point reduction would take effect on July 1, 2014.
All British Columbia families will benefit from these changes and, on average, pay less on their routine expenditures under the 10 per cent HST than going back to the PST and GST. To help offset the costs of the HST before the rate reduction in 2012, one-time transition cheques of $175 per child would be issued to families with children under 18 years old. In addition, low- and modest-income seniors will receive a one-time transition cheque of $175. The cost of the transition cheques is expected to be $200 million, and they will be issued by the end of the year.
The independent panel that reviewed the HST and the PST plus GST tax systems recently estimated that families now pay an average of $350 more in sales tax under the HST than they paid with the PST plus GST system. With a 10 per cent HST rate, instead of paying $350 more tax, B.C. families will on average pay $120 less tax than under the PST.
The independent panel also noted that while consumers are paying more, businesses are saving money. Furthermore, the Province remains committed to balancing the budget in 2013/14 while reducing the HST burden on families and modest income seniors. To help meet this commitment, government will increase the general corporate income tax rate to 12 per cent from the current 10 per cent on Jan. 1, 2012, and postpone the reduction in the small business tax rate planned for April 1, 2012. The measures would be temporary until the fiscal situation allows for further reductions.
Proposed changes to the HST will only take effect should British Columbians vote to keep the HST.
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