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June 23, 2021

Just one week to go before HST hike

Ontario's new Harmonized Sales Tax is just one week away.

What's interesting is that, unlike in B.C. where the backlash has been severe, most Ontario residents seem rather indifferent to the whole thing. Or maybe they just haven't done the math. 

While 83% of goods and services -- such as basic groceries, municipal transit and prescription drugs -- will remain untouched by the HST, the remainder will cost the average Ontario family $792 this year, according to a recent NDP study.

The figures, which do not include the one-time transition cheques that Ontarians received this month, suggest that only families with a combined income of less than $20,000 would come out ahead once the HST is in effect.

And that's not a lot of people.

Some products will be eligible for a point of-sale rebate for the provincial part of the HST. This means you'll  only pay the 5% federal portion of the HST (equivalent to the current GST). These include print newspapers, books, diapers, children’s clothing and footwear, children’s car seats and booster seats, feminine hygiene products and diapers.

Many household expenses that currently aren't subject to the PST will now be included under the HST, however. These include: basic cable TV, local residential phone, landscaping, lawn care, private snow removal, home renovations, and home service calls by an electrician, plumber or carpenter -- all of which will drive condo fees up as condo corporations pass their costs on through.

HST will now be charged on taxi trips, hotel rooms and any domestic air, rail and bus travel originating in Ontario, effectively making many vacations 8% more expensive.

Private resale of vehicles is also subject to HST, as is the price of gasoline or diesel. Expect to pay HST on gym and athletic memberships, green fees for golf, sports and fitness lessons (ballet, hockey, soccer, etc.), as well as hockey rink and hall rentals.

Massage therapy and fitness training are also subject to the harmonized tax, as are higher ticket items such as legal fees and funeral services.

Is it too late to fight back? Probably. But that hasn't stopped the growing tax revolt on the West Coast.

The Fight HST campaign has close to 700,000 signatures on its petition. A successful petition, approved by Elections BC, would allow the anti-lobby to propose legislation to revoke the HST before the legislature.

Does Ontario need a grass roots movement like that of Bill Vander Zalm? Would you sign up?

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...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

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...