TransLink Tax Bureaucracy, Costs & Leakage Will Hurt Small Businesses

January 28, 2015
  • More than 90% of Fort Langley BIA members oppose TransLink tax
  • Small businesses worried about expensive point of sale upgrades and more bureaucracy

FORT LANGLEY, BC: Small businesses will take a beating if the TransLink sales tax is approved, warns the president of the Fort Langley Business Improvement Association (BIA) and the No TransLink Tax campaign.

Eric Woodward, president of the Fort Langley BIA, said small business owners are just beginning to learn of the costs and administrative burden the TransLink tax will impose.

“Some of our members have been told it will cost as much as $10,000 to upgrade their point of sale systems for this TransLink tax,” Woodward said, noting more than 90% of his BIA members are opposed to the tax. “That’s a big hit, compounded by having more paperwork to fill out, more rules to wade through, and customers with less money in their pockets.”

“This TransLink tax is a raw deal for small businesses, and TransLink knows it,” said Gregory Thomas, deputy spokesperson for the No TransLink Tax campaign. “That’s why TransLink has never bothered to explain to small business owners the costs of paying, collecting and administering this tax.”

Woodward noted several concerns expressed by Fort Langley small businesses:

  • Point of sale upgrades – businesses are facing costs of up to $10,000 to upgrade cash registers for a third sales tax
  • Lack of clarity – the province has said the tax will apply to a “majority” of PST-taxable items, but failed to offer any clarity. Any difference between PST and the TransLink tax makes it more expensive and onerous to business owners
  • Small business retailers will have to complete and file *three* sales tax returns
  • Bureaucracy – Government will have to send out new paperwork, hire new collection staff, and create a whole new bureaucracy to manage the tax
  • More accounting costs – small business owners will be paying more for people to manage their books as they get more complicated

“It’s ridiculous that the local pub will have to charge four separate taxes and fill out four different sets of collection paperwork,” said Woodward. “This new sales tax was sprung on small business without one word of consultation by TransLink or its mayors.” 

While some TransLink tax supporters suggest the new sales tax won’t cause shoppers to leave the region, small business groups like the Fort Langley BIA disagree, noting the report fails to account for the large discrepancy in gas taxes. TransLink’s 17 cents per litre gas tax already regularly sends Lower Mainland residents into Abbotsford, Mission and the United States.

“If even one per cent of purchases leave the region, that’s half a billion dollars lost to local small businesses on top of the costs of the tax,” said Woodward. “When even the biggest retailers like Target, Mexx, Jacob, Smart Set, and Sony are closing up shop, why is TransLink piling more taxes and paperwork on small businesses?”

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