Steps are being taken to help businesses make the return to the old sales tax regime.
The Prince George Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a midday seminar on Feb. 27, where a specialist from the provincial government will be on hand to guide business people through the transition from the HST back to the previous combination of PST and GST on April 1.
The provincial government has also begun to host web-based seminars, or webinars, with the next rounds set for Feb. 5, 7, 12, 14, 19 and 21.
Additional efforts to reach out to businesses include a video, a toll-free help line, an e-mail service and a dedicated website, www.pstinbc.ca.
Chamber CEO Jennifer Brandle-McCall said there is plenty of support available but time is running out. Most businesses owners she talked to said it was something they would start thinking about once the Christmas rush is over.
"I felt a little uncomfortable with that knowing that it was such a short time to prepare and significant things need to happen," Brandle-McCall said.
She is particularly concerned about the businesses that started up since the HST came into effect but said the switch will pose its share of work for the veterans as well.
She's heard figures in the range of $5,000 for the cost a typical business will face to make the transition although for many smaller operators the cost will likely be in extra time.
"There are going to be additional bookkeeping and accounting costs, there are going to be inventory costs just with the changeover in how the price structure works and if you have a data system that manages your inventory, you've got to go into the system and make those changes and there are staff costs to do that," she said.
There are some wrinkles to contend with along the way. For example, the full 12 per cent will be charged for magazine and newspaper subscriptions right up to April 1, even though the customer will receive most or even all the editions after that date.
An exception to the general rules has been introduced for newly-constructed or significantly renovated homes to help mitigate distortive market behaviour.
Where ownership and possession transfer on or after April 1, purchasers will not pay the seven per cent provincial portion of the HST. Instead, where at least 10 per cent of construction occurred prior to that date purchasers will pay a provincial transitional tax of two per cent on the full house price. That arrangement will remain in place for two years.
Canadian Home Builders Association - Northern B.C. president Gordon Bliss said his sense is that it's had little influence on deciding when to start a project.
"Builders have still been selling their homes, so I don't think it's been as big an issue as people had thought," he said.
Due to the rebate on new homes, Bliss said a purchaser in Prince George typically finished $300 ahead under the HST regime compared to the PST/GST.