Extra Taxes/Fees Killing Small Business

Ever notice how EVERY politician … whether municipal, provincial, federal, from any party or political bent … always claims to be a friend of small business, says he/she supports small business and praises small business as the backbone of the community?

And yet, they’re slowly strangling small business, while giving HUGE corporations all kinds of breaks … including the HST, special tax writeoffs, subsidies and some of the lowest corporate tax rates in North America !

A couple of nights ago, a small restaurateur , told me how extra fees/taxes are killing her business. No big tax breaks there!

I guess don’t move in the right media circles, whose mouthpieces are always proclaiming how full their favorite dining spots always are, and how well they’re doing, despite the “squeeze” getting tighter all the time by increasing taxes/fees …and especially the HST.

We were dining at a small, family-run East Indian restaurant that has been at the same location for more than 20 years. The food is good, the atmosphere is comfortable and the prices reasonable … and yet business is down and  they’re now struggling and even considering closing Mondays.

Why?  THEY blame  … not the economy … but the City and the Provincial  HST.

A few years ago ,the city put parking meters along their street; has since both raised the rate AND extended the hours, right to 10 p.m., so with no other parking close by, that has added a $5 fee to each and every  dining bill.

Then came the HST … that has added another $5 to $8 to even a modest meal.  Restaurants used to benefit from a parking fee break, that saw meters initially go out of service at 6 pm., then 8 p.m., but now are enforced right to 10 p.m. … seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Add a tip to the same modest meal  … say, another $6 to $10  … and you’re up to $23 (or more) before even factoring in ANY food or drink.

Big earners … like the relatively rich who make city parking meter policy and provincial politicians who set rates like the HST … clearly have no idea …or don’t care … how these extra taxes/fees are hurting SMALL businesses that measure sales in $20 or $40 or even $50 a pop.

In the rush to make things even easier and more rewarding for companies that measure sales in the $1,000s or $10,000s or $100,000s … or even millions …  the family-run business is paying a huge cost.

In the face of  all those fees/taxes that keep adding up,  diners are now eating out less often (especially those with children), cutting back on appetizers, drinks or desserts,  the owner of that little restaurant told me.  And that is hurting … a lot!  Because the dollars from those “extras”  that used boost restaurant sales … and account for a lot of the profits … now just go into the cash machines of the city and the pockets of the province.

All a result of the strangulating squeeze put on small business by politicians, who seem to find all kinds of ways to support, encourage and give tax breaks to big business.

Government insists it needs more money to pay for all those services it demands.  Understood.  But if that’s the case, BIG business MUST pay its fair share.

And getting rid of the HST would be the start of that.

Harv Oberfeld

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23 Responses to Extra Taxes/Fees Killing Small Business

  1. Brad says:

    Harvey, it’s not very often I disagree with you, and I’m not disagreeing now. The HST is the icing on the cake. The Libs seem to want to take more and more from your wallet in underhanded ways…hydro increases, msp increases, icbc increases, etc, etc.

    Getting rid of the HST would be the start…getting rid of the Liberals would be the next step.

    (Response: You raise a good point … the taxes/fees I pointed out …because they were the oines mentioned to me by the restaurant owner ..are only part of the picture. there are all kinds of fee/service cost increases being foisted on all of us by government …well beyond inflation or the average trise in incomes or pensions. BIG business can absorb them …but the little business person, like the smaller wage/pension earner is taking a proportionately bigger hit. h.o)

  2. D. M. Johnston says:

    We live in the age of the great tax scam with the massive downloading on the middle and lower middle class from the corporate giants who buy and sell politicians like vegetables at the market.

    Politicians kow-tow to the corporate elites because they provide the funds and technical know-how to win elections. The taxpayer is regarded as a rube with deep pockets who can afford tax increase after tax increase. The taxpayer is maxed out.

    I feel for the poor restaurateur, which I take, is in Vancouver. I once operated a store in Vancouver for 22 years and I can tell you first hand, the civic bureaucracy think merchants are nothing more than simpletons who can be fleeced by city hall.

    The HST is the coup de gras for the middle class and it maybe the coup de gras for civic governments as the peasants are sharpening their pitchforks.

    Here is my personal example of the HST tax grab.

    I run an annual event for a local nonprofit Society. The admission fee to enter the event goes to help fund the society’s annual long weekend event.

    Because the society is a non-profit organization and my event is a funding event, Delta Council has included the venue with their annual grant to the Society.

    This year the society was billed $107.00 HST on the rental of the building (which is free via the grant) as cash grants are HST free but grants of municipal property are charged HST!

    Here we have an example of HST being charged when free transaction (for a charitable event) has taken place!

    You are correct, big business must pay their fair share and as far as I can see, they are getting a free ride on the taxpayer’s dime.

    (Response; So non-profit groups have to pay ..so BIG corporations can be subsidized!!! Another problem is small business owners don’t have the time or the resources or the power to make much of an impact at City Hall. It hadn’t occurred to me how devastating an impact something like a parking meter can have on a small business. But I do remember there was a Keg on Dunsmuir and the Rex roast beef place in the Bental Center we used to go to occasionally for dinner … until parking meter rates went really sky high ($6 an hour) and the applicable hours were extended as well …so we found other places to go. Both those restaurants, that had been there for decades, are now closed ..and I’d now bet the City helped put them out of business, surrounding both with the wall of high-cost meters ..not even givingthem a break to attract evening dining crowd. The big spenders,m with high incomes, just don’t understand how the rest of us live…. and try to make a living. h.o)

  3. Leah says:

    The very definition of living in the days of “predatory corporatocracy”.

    (Response: Are the corporations predatory ..or have they just bought and paid for too many politicians and parties? h.o)

  4. Julie says:

    Campbell and the BC Liberals, had stolen from this province and the people for ten years.

    Campbell twice lied, to win two different elections. Harper Campbell and Hansen colluded on the HST long before the BC election. The three of them, are probably the most evil, corrupt, and in the lowest form of, the human species on this planet.

    Christy is carrying on Campbell’s legacy, she too is forcing the HST on her, family’s first, seniors and all low income citizens. Small businesses, the BC Liberals could give a damn less about.

    BC has a vast wealth of natural resources. Many mines, gas fields, timber, orchards, market gardens, cattle ranches, fishing, tourism, you name it. There is no excuse for our health care and our education, to be in this horrendous state of decay.

    If Christy and the BC Liberals, are whining about, how they need money for services. This is not the fault of the citizens.

    Christy can damn well get our BCR back, our rivers back, take back our natural resources, that have been stolen from this province. Get back the stolen money, De Jong thieved, to pay the two patsies, that took the fall for Campbell’s theft and corrupt sale of the BCR.

    Get back every damned cent, that has been stolen from this province and the people, by the BC Liberals. That means, Ida Chong eating her way through $6,000 per year, for her fine dining. The abuse of government spending, has to stop.

    Provincial government officials, get tax free meals and who in the hell knows, what other government abuses there are?

    Canada is rotten to the core with dishonesty, dirty tactics and corruption. BC is the most corrupt province in Canada. What about that Christy? What does that tell you and your henchmen?

  5. Jason says:

    “Government insists it needs more money to pay for all those services it demands. Understood. But if that’s the case, BIG business MUST pay its fair share.”

    But Harvey, the government has said time and time again that the HST won’t bring them any more money – it’s revenue neutral. Haven’t you read all those pamphlets?

    (Response: And the government wouldn’t lie, would they! Actualy they changed that neutral claim after the independent panel said it bring in hundreds of millions extra. So Clark said she would lower the HST …in a couple of years. Although, I haven’t yet checked Clark’s stand …today. h.o)

  6. RS says:

    And just wait until the small family businesses (Next time I hear HypoChristy’s spew her families first mantra I think I’m goin ta spew.) like the establishment you mention HO, have smart meters and water meters inflicted upon them…

    No they’re not so we can merely “monitor consumption” as the powers that be fallaciously suggest — it’s so “they” can monitor our usage and charge you more ‘n’ more ‘n’ more…

  7. morry says:

    “HST is revenue neutral”
    Yes and I’ll Still Love You in the Morning.

    We pay more Taxes for services and entertainment, big business pay less taxes == neutral. Sounds fair to me.

    And don’t get me started with the CITY and it’s damn flotilla of parking meters which are proliferating at an alarming rate. Soon they’ll have them installed in our backyards so they can charge to park our cars on our property. ASSHATS!

    Read the codswallop of how a small hair salon owner in YVR thinks the HST is good even if his patrons have to pay more! He is giving his patrons two “haircuts” for the price of one!! .. I couldn’t believe the BS throughout that G&M article! To Mr. Crosfield’s patrons: time to smell the coffee!

    (Response: How could you! Now you’ve given City Hall a new idea …parking meters in back lanes and on cars parked in our own backyards! By the way, is it my imagination or are parking meter hourly rates in Vancouver directly proportional to how the residents voted for Vision? Higher downtown and on thje West side…lower and lower as you head East? h.o.)

  8. A Dave says:

    On a related note, another local blog and her related Globe article reported on the bike lanes’ economic impact study.

    Apparently, the City’s economic study “factored out other impacts like the recession, the HST and parking taxes…” in order to get an accurate measure of how the bike lanes were affecting business.

    So, we now have a junior level of government whose economic experts — representing the municipality that is the business hub of BC no less — are explictly admitting that the HST is negatively impacting business in downtown Vancouver.

    The Downtown BIA has raised no issue with the study methodology, so one can only assume that they, too, are implicitly agreeing that the HST has negatively impacted their business members!

    Yet we’re still expected to believe the stick men?

    (Response: Good point! More proof that the HST IS hurting small business … not that either the municipality or province seems to care. h.o)

  9. Donna says:

    The HST is all about big business. Small businesses and the citizens, don’t even remotely count.

    The HST was designed for the big corporations only. There was no intention of the HST, being of any benefit for the people. BC lost 12,000 jobs in June, because of the HST. Big business is saving tons of money, from the HST. However, none of their savings have, “trickled” down to the people. In fact the cost of living in BC, as gone sky high, because of the HST.

    The amazing lies, that Campbell, Hansen and the BC Liberals told the the people, are continuing on today with Christy. The ridiculous stick man ads, lie like a sidewalk.

    I despair that, the BC people will ever have a government that isn’t criminal.

  10. 13 says:

    Harvey, I dont care what party is in power or who lies or who cheats. Big buisness is the enemy. Unions are the enemy. HST is bad or good. Fees are killing a small restaurant. No funding for the evergreen line. The list of problems is endless.

    One possible solution might be to reduce the size of goverment/ Look at all of the mayors we have. All the school boards. All the fire departments.
    Lets amalgamate all of the different municipalities into about 3. Vancouver . Surrey and Fraser Valley. Eliminate North and West Van. Say goodbye to Port Moody Port Coquitlam Coquitlam Ioco Belcara. No more Delta Langley Cloverdale Mission Abbotsford Chilliwack One police force only. No more mayors whinning about whats fair. We would save millions. The UIC would hurt for a few years with thousands of unneeded civil servants but sooner or later we might see a light at the end of the tunnel

    (Response: But how would be ever get the voters to go for all that? We know they like sugar coated promises ,even if those always turn out to be lies. h.o)

  11. D. M. Johnston says:

    I see a lot of spin that the PST was a hardship on the small business person and to that I say BS!

    I operated a small shop in downtown Vancouver for over 22 years and doing the PST was a snap, it took all of 5 minutes and they paid you $11 for your time and effort – bigger stores go paid more.

    If you kept proper and honest books, the PST was very easy to do, it had to be as it was designed for small business people.

    I have a store no more, but what I see today is scores of “under the table” opportunists who deal in everything. Cash is once again king!

    The consumer is shopping South of the boarder and if one is vigilant, one can save hundred of dollars per visit. The HST, increasing gas taxes are driving us to shop elsewhere – don’t the politicians get it or are they in the clouds on their massive taxpayer provided stipends and freebies.

  12. larben says:

    Who didn’t identify with Paul Newman as Cool Hand Luke, cutting the tops off all the parking meters? Truth is though, if you didn’t have meters it would be first come, first serve! And we can blame “big business” all day long, but when you have some people paying taxes and paying the fares, and others picking it up for free, it isn’t going to go away. How many of us have paid to get on the bus, while the next guy or gal gets on free with a sob-story? It’s the same with every service we have, how many are getting free medical, and prescriptions and housing and meal chits at MacDonalds and etc.?
    Even St. Paul states that he who will not work, should not eat. Time to put on our man-pants folks!

  13. BillP says:

    As a small business owner, the temptation to do “under the table” is pretty hard to resist. I don’t do it personally, and to be clear, this is NOT a ringing endorsement of government spending policies, but I’m getting near the time to hang up the tools and join Club Retirement so every penny on the books creates value to whoever buys my baby. That being said, I too find the fees and taxes being off loaded onto the average earner becoming way too much for the budget. I had to park my (over taxed gas dependent van) downtown last week – the meters are working for our shameful minimum wage – $8 an hour – while off street rates are even more ridiculous. Taxes on parking in lots? 30% plus.I’m not sure how I can eat that costs and other increases and fees and not have to pass it on. My business serves both commercial and residential customers, recently saddled with the HST, has seen a drop of nearly 30% on the residential side, many offering to pay in cash to skip the HST. Tempting, but in the end, I’ll lose if I do take the bait. I’ve had other trades I deal with make similar offers. The tipping point is closing in and the best the idiotic politicians can come up with is increase taxes. AGAIN. I truly don’t believe it’s lack of funds to run things, but more of the same same old , tax and spend, while giving the spoils to the corporate elite. I’m far from a socialist, but squeezing the pulp out of my income and leaving me the rinds is getting to be way too much. If I ran my business the way the Liberal crew runs things…
    And to the non- elected Translink buffoons who think there’s more plunder to be had from the vehicle dependent – maybe put on your thinking caps, JUST ONCE, and realize there’s not much if anything left in the cupboards and raising taxes will, again, raise the prices on everything. We already pay if not the highest, darn near the highest fuel taxes in the country so go whistle.

    (Response: I believe what we are seeing in Vancouver is an escalating war on vehicles by the current Vision council ..and downtown business (especially small business) will be the biggest loser. Watch for my next blog …it’s on this topic. h.o)

  14. Keith says:

    Ayup Harvey,

    in this past week one of the Island t.v. stations evening news ran a segment reporting on the lack of tourists in the Parksville Qualicum area. In particular a resort in Bowser just north of Qualicum beach at the height of the tourist season has no-one staying there. Then a nice lady in Qualicum running a resort had a similar tale of few vacationers staying. Interviewing someone from yet another Island tourism organisation the blurb was the bigger resorts are at the same # as last year, However I live in the Parksville/Qualicum are and it’s very apparent the visitors aren’t as many as based on lower traffic volumes and the empty spaces in the restaurants etc. 9 A.M. on a Sunday morning in Mcdonalds it’s usually full of harassed parents and lots of happy kids, not today July 24th, just the locals and a couple of visitors, no out province plates except one from Alberta

    Sure the weather hasn’t been that great although it’s been better here than just about anywhere else but many folks are pointing at the ferry fares as a significant culprit for the lower numbers this year which in reality have been deminishing over the last few years. A couple of hundred each way for an r.v. or boat, or could that money be better spent doing something else.?

    I’m not sure it’s just ferry fares but the accumulation of all the nickel a diming has now reached a saturation point, referring to a recent comment you made that if the consumer hasn’t got the dough it doesn’t make any difference what is good for business. It’s now at the point where the provincial govt. really needs to take a look at the economic advice they are getting from their back slappers. Pretty soon the economy is going to go underground further than they can imagine which means losing much of the tax base. Tony Blair found that out after M. Thatcher being little more than a shill for the Confederation of British Industry drove the UK economy underground, not so good for the govt. revenues but everyone had plenty of money. Different times and names but I can see history repeating itself.

    (Response: Sometimes with tourism, it’s hard to know if it’s the HST (have the Americans even heard of it?) or more the high dollar and high cost of gasoline…and poor US economy. But certainly when it comes to discretionary spending like entertainment and restaurants …those places that cater to the big earners may be doing allright (esp if they cater to the corporate big shots cashing in on the HST) but those of on the down side of higher taxes …working families, seniors, underpaid young people ..are hurting and have clearly cut back. h.o)

  15. Wilson says:

    Oberfeld, before I retired I ran a small business with 11-14 employees depending on the time of year. The HST would have helped us a ton so you really can’t say that it won’t help small business. It might not help some, but damned straight it will help others.

    I do agree though about costs….business licence fees always seem to increase….municipal taxes go up….parking increases…or worse they decrease parking spots with crap like bike lines and then increase what few spots are left…..

    I am glad to be retired and don’t have to put up with the crap anymore. I don’t think I can ever think of any “break” for small business in all my years. Usually it was just increase after increase. I recall “fondly” when many of us back in the 1990’s spent thousands to convert our small truck and car fleets over to propane only to have the NDP come out and end the exemption of road tax on propane….the cost shot up through the roof basically making all of our investment a waste of thousands of dollars not to mention resale was killed off as well. Meanwhile they had all kinds of money for Fast Ferries and Western Star who took all of that money and then ran off to Portland.

    I would have welcomed the HST, I really would have. The Fed’s got that one right.

    (Response: Thanks for your perspective. Of course, some benefit from the HST …even some small businesses. But the overwhelming business complaints about it also come from that sector …esp those in the service industries. I don’t search them out (I’m retired 😉 but wherever I go, they come up to me and complain. Tonight we dined in a large restaurant …only three tables occupied. I felt sorry for the owner and the servers. They gave us a coupon .. with NO expiry date … imploring us to return. The fact of the matter is when you pull so much EXTRA money out of the pockets of consumers …they have less to spend… and those lower prices promised from corporate HST savings never materialized . It’s not rocket science… just sad to watch unfold. h.o)

  16. Henri says:

    Keith // Jul 25, 2011 at 12:02 am, said in part all the nickel a diming has now reached a saturation point.
    Keith is 100% correct.
    So what to did in lieu of, travel,eating out, movies,etc.
    Stay home and watch TV ? Sorry but they have us by the short hairs already on that one also. Were now all paying a 1.5% tax on what we subscribe to, this being for which is called the “TV Local Programming Improvement Fund (LPIF)”and still on the horizon to be added onto our bill , the “Local TV Matters” campaign If implemented, it could result in an increase cost of about $5-10 on your bill for all cable or satellite subscribers, plus HST.
    I suggest we hold another referendum ordering all these pecker-woods that run our country be deported to some far off land where we would never hear of them again.

  17. Wilson says:

    Can’t let those comments get a free pass Harv,

    Mine was also a “service” related business but because we provided a service to “tangible goods” our services were ALWAYS subject to both the PST and GST. I can tell you that I worked just s bloody hard a guy who ran a restaurant and my staff made a ton more in wages but the guy running the restaurant for whatever reason he didn’t have to charge any PST and to me that was always BS. I have no time for whiner who think it is unfair they now have to charge the same damn taxes that we always had too.

    Taxes are supposed to be the same for everyone and yet that was not the case. I am sorry if I get a tad hot under the collar but it pisses me of that I had taxes collected off the backs of my labor and my sweat equity for 22 years in this Province and some previously exempt business owners are now whining because they have to do the same thing that many of us always had to do. Would it be fair Oberfeld that you paid tax as a TV reporter (and a good one) and a radio reporter never had to pay taxes just because he worked for CKNW and was in radio ? That about amounts up to it and it’s crap.

    I agree, making people pay more nobody likes but everyone hates taxes and they might as well be fair to everyone running a business. We all use roads and healthcare and we should bloody well expect to pay, and yes, that includes people running a damned restaurant. They guy running the hardware store works just as damned hard and he always had to contribute in collecting PST. Rant over.

    (Response: I’m sympathetic to your sentiments. I still remember, in Montreal, my father was a furrier who had good times and hard times..paying provincial, municipal and federal corporate taxes on everything. But Quebec rastaurants charged no provinical tax on meals up to a certain amount…and if they knew you and your bill was over the tax-exempt limit, they gave you two separate bills! The logic then, and I suspect now, is that those who produce goods people need, and usually can’t avoid buying, pay both taxes. Restaurants were given a break, like it or not, because whether you go to them or produce their “product” is so discretionary you do have a choice. And the HST is making a lot more people cook at home or go out for cheaper eats than they used to. As for tv versus radio reporters…it’s the same business … one a sit-down, the other a drivethru … 🙂 so the taxes should be the same. h.o)

  18. Paul says:

    Harvey: “The logic then, and I suspect now, is that those who produce goods people need, and usually can’t avoid buying, pay both taxes.”


    Toilet paper = 12% HST

    Caspian Sea Asetra Sturgeon Caviar – Price $135.00 for 28gr. (1 oz) = Tax FREE

    (Source: International House of Caviar – Burnaby – http://www.caviar.bc.ca/ )
    In Ontario where the HST is 13%, Qualifying Prepared Food and Beverages Sold for $4.00 or Less is only 5% GST payable.

    In british Columbia, if you buy an ice cream cone for your little kid, you are now paying the new 7% Pinocchio Tax PLUS 5% GST for a total of 12%.

    What a treat.

    (Barf bags = 12% HST)

    (Response: That’s how government now works ..they tax whatever the middle class consumes … on the way in and the way out. h.o)

  19. Henri says:

    Looks like not only the caviar is HST free but the shipping of it as well .
    Asetra Sturgeon Caviar (Acipenser Guldenstad) (28gr. (1 oz))
    $135.00 Subtotal:

  20. Chris Keam says:

    “But unlike other cities, where bicycling is a highly successful alternative, Vision couldn’t be satisfied with painted bike lanes on roadways; ”

    Which cities are you referring to Mr. Oberfeld? Specifics would make for a stronger case. What percentage of trips by bike do you deem ‘hihgly successful’?

    Looking forward to additional information that will help your readers put this claim into perspective.

    (Response: Well, in London last year, they had an amazing 5,250,000 bike trips (read it in the local press while there) … there are automated bike rental stands throughout the city and on trips there last year and this … I saw painted bike lanes in some places, but not the overkill concrete barrier separated bike lanes, blocking access to businesses or parking. In NYC, studies showed that, at six key intersections, the number of cyclists from 7 a.m. to 7 .p.m quadrupled in 2009 to 18,000 from 2000 levels … not concrete barriers there eating up roadways and parking. Cycling should be encouraged …but not by a dictatorship that ignores the impact on jobs, businesses, and SEVERE impacts on other traffic flow. h.o)

  21. Chris Keam says:

    It’s not a equal comparison to compare cities with bike shares to those without. The real indicator is percentage of mode share. Of course NYC does have similar bike lanes to Vancouver in some areas, — the Ninth Avenue separated lane uses twice as much road space for a single lane of cycle track, and in terms of percentage of total trips we compare quite favorably. Same with London (re: mode share).

    The reality is that the exact same arguments play out in NYC, London, Sydney, you name it. Anywhere bike lanes go in, driver’s blood pressure goes up and businesses are fearful of the change. It’s really not that different from the good old days when cars started taking space from the horse and carriage. Vancouver’s experience isn’t an anomaly, it’s par for the course.

    (Response: I’ve said it before and repeat: I believe bike use should be encouraged… BUT it will only divide and create animosity while City Hall favors cyclists, and simlutaneously treats motorists like powerless victims…, to be exploited and mistreated. There WILL be pushback. h.o)

  22. Alec says:

    Couldn’t agree more. I’m a small service business owner and I can’t scrape a living in this Province any longer. Nobody wants to pay 12% tax on top of a $5000 job, so all the business I used to get now goes to competitors who happily work in the underground economy. And people flock to them – since nobody here really has any money left for discretionary spending, it all having been sucked away by greedy government and an outrageous cost of living.

    HST is killing small business in BC – and I, like many other small business owners, will be forced to leave BC to start over where people can actually afford our services (i.e. Alberta, Saskatchewan – ironically where HST doesn’t exist and economies are doing much, much better).

    Fiberals and their HST have pretty much fooked BC.

    (Response: It will be interesting to see how the vote goes. If the HST survives, it will be because of the huge corporate and government spending on t5he camapign, bolstered by a supportive conglomerate-owned media: if it goes down despite all that , it will be a realy BIGl message to the government about how angry and fed up people are with the ever-growing tax burden being shifted from business to working people. h.o)

  23. Alec says:

    Unfortunately even if it is voted down we still have to live with it until up to 2015 – at which point many of the services which were formerly exempt from PST will likely now be Provincially taxed. Have a look at this gem: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2011/08/10/bc-pst-reinstatement-spat.html

    Don’t know if there’s any way to win against this gov’t who seem to think BC’ers have an unlimited income they can just tax away.

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