HST could quash TransLink’s pay parking tax

Richmond Review

By Jeff Nagel – BC Local News

B.C.’s Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is threatening to take away one of TransLink’s planned tax revenue sources.

The transportation authority currently gets $15 million a year from a seven per cent provincial sales tax that’s added to pay parking lot fees.

TransLink intends to double or triple the pay parking tax to either 14 or 21 per cent, depending on which transit expansion plan under consideration gets approved by the mayors’ council.

But the HST will next summer replace the GST and the PST – including the dedicated TransLink parking tax – and it’s unclear how TransLink will get the money, officials say.

“If we can’t collect it and we can’t get it, that’s a big piece,” said TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast.

The HST would be collected by the federal government, ending the province’s sales tax collection bureaucracy.

The province could agree to remit to TransLink the equivalent of the seven per cent provincial component of the HST it gets from Ottawa.

But there’s no obvious way a customized, higher amount could be charged on pay parking lots on TransLink’s behalf.

“That just came out of the woodwork in the last two weeks,” Prendergast said.

Tripling the parking sales tax to generate an extra $30 million was one of the identified revenue sources in a proposed funding scenario to generate an extra $130 million a year to keep TransLink on life support and avert deep cuts.

A much more ambitious expansion plan would double the parking tax immediately and move it to 21 per cent in 2015.

Prendergast said the HST has no impact on the transit fares or fuel tax that TransLink collects.


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