Letter: HST too costly

Harmonizing Ontario and British Columbia’s sales taxes with the federal GST is costing the Canada Revenue Agency more than originally thought – and it’s expected to cost even more next year.Testifying before the house of commons finance committee this week, chief financial officer Filipe Dinis said the agency needed approval for an extra $57.8 million for harmonizing the taxes to finish out the governments fiscal year.Meanwhile a couple of blocks away, Treasury Board president Stockwell Day tabled the government’s main estimates for 2010-11 in the house of commons, calling for a $112.6 million increase next year to implement the harmonized sales tax in the two provinces.Dinis said much of the increase in the agency’s costs to harmonize the taxes is the result of the decision to transfer provincial civil servants from Ontario and British Columbia to the revenue agency to help administer the harmonized sales tax.Dinis said the agency predicts that 80 per cent of Ontario civil servants affected will choose to make the jump, as will 99 per cent of British Columbia’s.However, Dinis refused to get drawn into the politically charged question of cost of harmonizing the federal GST with Quebec’s sales tax.While Ontario recently received $4.3 billion for harmonizing it’s sales tax and British Columbia got $1.6 billion, Quebec harmonized its sales tax in 1992 without any compensation.The Bloc Quebecois is threatening to vote against the March 22 budget unless Ottawa gives Quebec $2.2 billion in compensation.Is there any one that reads this letter willing to bet which way the decision re: Quebec will go? They always seem to get what they want while the far west is too far away from Ottawa to be of any significance to the Ottawa pundits. Don HarrisonLadysmith