"Confusion will reign supreme" as the province transitions away from the harmonized sales tax, says the president and CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.
John Winter, who was the guest speaker at a Delta Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Tuesday, said it's been estimated by the Ministry of Finance that 100,000 businesses have yet to register to collect provincial sales tax on April 1.
"It's a concern. But I think the reality is come April 1 all hell is going to break loose no matter what happens because confusion will reign supreme," Winter told the audience at the Coast Tsawwassen Inn. "If you think elimination of the penny was cause for some grief in some scenarios, you ain't seen nothing yet, in my opinion."
The government promised to drop the controversial tax after a majority of voters in a 2011 referendum chose to return to the old PST/GST model.
He noted businesses are responsibile to collect taxes for governments and have a legal obligation to do so. He said if they don't do it properly, they're breaking the law.
Winter later added that because of the switch back to the provincial sales tax the business community of B.C. is facing the largest single tax increase that's ever been imposed. He estimated the increase would be $1.5 billion.
Winter also discussed a joint initiative between the provincial chamber and the Business Council of B.C. called the B.C. Agenda for Shared Prosperity.
"Unfortunately it appears that British Columbians are no longer making the link between provincial economic growth and personal wellbeing. And in some cases, even if they do make the link, they're not buying the argument."
Winter said the goal is to reconnect British Columbians and B.C. communities with the link that does exist between economic prosperity and personal family prosperity.
An advisory council, including former Tsawwassen First Nation chief Kim Baird, has been formed as part of the initiative. A summit, with a keynote address from former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, is planned for April 5 in Vancouver.
More information on the plan can be found at http: // bcagenda.ca.