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September 25, 2021

Ontario native leaders slam HST

Judging by the vitriol on our messages boards, just about everyone hates Ontario’s new HST – which would combine the currently separate eight per cent provincial sales tax and the five per cent GST into one tariff that would cover previously tax-exempt items – but they’re not sure what to do about it.

Here’s one approach: Ontario native leaders say they’ll turn their reserves into tax-free shopping zones rather than let the HST strip them of tax breaks that status Indians enjoy in the other provinces. 

In Ontario, First Nations are currently exempt from PST and partially exempt from the GST, but this won't be the case under the proposed HST arrangements. In the three provinces that have already put the HST in place (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador) however, First Nations are fully exempt. 

Selling more goods tax free and under the table would likely build on the existing practice of selling cheap smokes to non-natives on reserve, the Globe and Mail reports, suggesting that so-called smoke shacks are already causing major headaches for police and the Canada Revenue Agency. 

“It's happening now,” Blaine Commandant, the chief of Wahta Mohawk First Nation near Muskoka, told the Globe. “It could happen on a much larger scale, and why not? You want to buy a car, you come and get it from me and I'll not charge you the extra 10-15 per cent on a $50,000 vehicle. That's a nice chunk of money.” 

Yep, there's nothing quite like a good old tax revolt.

Tell us: Given the opportunity, would you do more tax-free shopping on Native lands?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...