Monday, July 05, 2010

Harmonized Sales Tax on New Houses

The Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) replaced the Federal Goods and Services Tax (GST), and the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) in British Columbia, on July 1, 2010.

Before the HST, when you bought a new house in B.C. the price was subject to 5% GST (less any applicable rebate), but not the 7% PST. Now the price will be subject to the 12% HST.

Fortunately, there are rebates available for the new HST, which in many cases will reduce the tax burden. Here is a description of the Provincial rebate from a "GST/HST Info Sheet" I found while surfing Canada Revenue Agency's website (yes I surf in the strangest places):

An individual who purchases new housing together
with land from a builder may be entitled to claim a
British Columbia new housing rebate in respect of
the provincial part of the HST paid by the individual
on the purchase.

The rebate will be available if the individual:
• is entitled to claim a GST/HST new housing
rebate in respect of the federal part of the HST;
• would be entitled to claim that rebate if the
purchase price of the housing were less than

The British Columbia new housing rebate is equal
to 71.43% of the 7% provincial part of the HST that
the individual paid on the purchase of the new
housing, up to a maximum rebate amount of
$26,250. The British Columbia new housing rebate
is available regardless of the purchase price provided
that the individual meets all of the other conditions
for claiming a GST/HST new housing rebate. That
is, there are no phase-out or maximum purchase
price thresholds for the British Columbia new
housing rebate.

I find it all rather complicated, but as I understand it the effect will be that on new houses up to a certain price (if my math is right $525,000), the Provincial component of the HST will be 2 percent rather than 7 percent.

Although buyers of new houses did not have to pay the PST, the builders had to pay PST on the materials they bought.

If the PST on building material worked out to be 2% of the purchase price of new houses under the old system, and if all of the savings to builders of being able to claim input tax credits on the HST they pay on materials are passed on to new home buyers, in theory the total cost to buyers of low to moderately priced new houses might not change much. Those are two big ifs. But that appears to be the theory behind the Provincial Government's "New Home Calculator," which allows you to calculate the HST on a new home if you are eligible for the rebates. You can find a link to the calculator from this page under "Helpful Link" on the right hand side of the page.

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