At 5:02AM this morning I received an email alert from the Ontario Ministry of Revenue about harmonized sales tax obligations starting today. First, I must say "Thank you for the notice".
Here is the contents of the emailed "Revenue Alert:
Reminder: Helping Businesses Transition To The Harmonized Sales Tax
What You Need To Know For May 1
On July 1, 2010, the retail sales tax will be replaced with a more modern, value-added tax that will be combined with the federal GST to create a harmonized sales tax for Ontario.
To help ease the transition to the HST, Ontario released general transitional rules in October 2009. Some of these rules take effect May 1.
What You Need to Know
• As of May 1, the HST will generally apply on pre-payments for products and services that are going to be provided or performed on or after July 1.
• The HST should not be charged for any goods received or services performed before July 1.
These transition rules are consistent with the approach used in the Atlantic provinces and Quebec. They are also similar to the transition rules that were used for the GST. BC has also largely adopted these transition rules.
The HST and cuts to business taxes will cut Ontario's marginal effective tax rate on new investment in half. Ontario will be providing $4.6 billion in tax relief over three years, including Corporate Income Tax cuts starting July 1, 2010.
• Find out more about the General Transitional Rules for Ontario HST
• Read about the Canada Revenue Agency's HST transitional rules
• Read more about What You Need to Know to prepare for the HST
• Get the list of Important Dates to Remember
Not the most helpful. There were no attachments (but there were the four links that I am able to click on).
The Ontario Ministry of Revenue is not asking the most important question "How can the Government of Ontario help businesses comply with the HST rules that result from our tax reform decisions?" The Ontario Government should do more to make it as easy as possible for Ontario businesses and businesses selling to people in Ontario to be able to comply with the new HST rules.
The fact that this is a similar approach to the approach in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador is irrelevant to the business owner who is struggling in the current economic climate. The fact that marginal rate rates may be lower and may encourage new businesses to come to Ontario is also not important to the existing businesses.
Business owner wants someone to help them understand what they have to do to keep auditors happy. No business owner wants auditors to find mistakes. No Ontario business owner wants to be assessed in 1-2-3-or 4 or more years.
What is glaringly missing from today's email is basic instructions.
1) If you take on order after April 30, 2010 to sell a good AND will deliver the good after June 30, 2010, HST is collectible. if you take an order after April 30, 2010 to sell a good AND deliver the good before July 1, 2010, HST is not collectible.
2) If you enter into a lease after April 30, 2010 to lease a good AND the lease term extends beyond June 30, 2010, HST is collectible on the part of the lease that takes place after June 30, 2010, but not the part before July 1, 2010).
3) If you enter into a verbal or written contract after April 30, 2010 to provide services AND the services are to be performed in whole or in part after June 30, 2010, HST is collectible in respect of services to be performed after June 30, 2010 (unless 90% of the services are performed before July 1, 2010 and certain other conditions are satisfied). if you enter into a contract after April 30, 2010 to provide services and the services are performed in whole before July 1, 2010, HST is not collectible.
4) If you entered into a written agreement of purchase and sale for residential real property in Ontario into after June 18, 2009, AND both ownership and possession are transferred after June 2010, HST is collectible.
5) If you sell a subscription to a magazine or periodical or newspaper and receive payment for the subscription in full before July 1, 2010, then HST is not collectible. If you sell a subscription to a magazine or periodical or newspaper and receive payment for the subscription in full after June 30, 2010, then HST is collectible.
6) I you collect HST before July 1, 2010, DO NOT add it to your GST/HST return until after July 1, 2010. DO NOT include the HST in tax collected on your GST/HST filed in May or June 2010. Include the HST in GST/HST return after July 1, 2010.
7) If your situation is not covered by the above rules because your business activity straddles the pre-July and post-HST periods, consult with an expert or the Ontario Ministry of Revenue (and take notes of who you spoke with and the advice they gave in case you need a due diligence defence in the future).