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HST To Make Many Services More Costly

Back on December 3rd, 2009, the Synergy Merchant Services Blog discussed the impending implementation of Harmonized Sales Tax in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. Already in effect in other parts of Canada including Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the new HST proposes to combine the current Provincial Sales Tax (PST) of 8% and the 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST) taxes into one combined 13% tax on all purchases.

Set to commence in Ontario and B.C. on Canada Day this year, this new tax has been confronted with great criticism as it is forecasted that taxes will be increased on products and services that did not before include both the PST and GST. In yesterday’s edition of The Toronto Sun, Antonella Artuso confirmed the fears of many residents of Ontario and B.C. by revealing the many different ways in which the new HST will bring about increased costs for residents of each province.

Among the most interesting items up for an increase thanks to the new tax is breast augmentations. Yep, you read it right. Women who are looking into cosmetic breast surgery will have the prices for the procedures increased by $400 to $800, writes Artuso. The price for the surgery, along with other types of cosmetic surgeries, did not previously incorporate the 8% PST. With HST the new norm as of July 1st, these surgeries will evidently be getting larger along with the body parts going under the knife.

More importantly, however, both Ontario and British Columbia residents are most likely still unaware of just how drastically the new HST will be affecting their regular spending. Services that were previously exempt from PST will become noticeably more expensive. This includes gas, heating and electricity bills which, of course, will affect just about everyone with a home.

Dr. David Ellis, of The Art of Facial Surgery in Toronto believes this will only hinder the nation’s progress in recovering from the recession. He shared his opinion of what is to come: “I think it’ll be catastrophic and everyone in July will buckle in their straps and stop spending money…And we need people to spend money for the economy.”

Many other services will be affected as well, Artuso points out. As she writes, “gasoline, haircuts, lawyer bills and accountant fees: All on the way up. And just this week Toronto City Council passed a motion to recalibrate taxi metres to include the additional 8% tax on cab fares.”

Said Ellis: “It’s going to cause further hardship. So people who go to their hairdresser, say once a month or once every six weeks, may have to do it once every two months or three months. And someone who has their botox three or four times a year, they may have to stretch it out twice a year.”

The 13% HST will generally apply to procedures that are considered cosmetic. As a result, skin grafts for a burn victim or laser eye surgery may not incur HST charges while botox or laser hair removal will. Artuso notes that a face lift currently costs around $15,000 to $20,000. With HST, patients can expect to tack on another $1,200 to $1,600 to their final bills.

It is not yet known if Ontario and B.C. residents are flocking to their cosmetic surgeons in an effort to get their procedures in before July hits. When it does hit, however, it is safe to say that the new Harmonized Sales Tax will not be a hit.

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