Friday, July 16, 2010

The Chronicles of HST: The Lying, The Bitch, and the Boardroom

HST is the acronym for:

a) Hateful Sales Tax
b) Horrible Sales Tax
c) Hellish Sales Tax
d) Harmonized Sales Tax, in peace and light, like a gift from above, in harmony with the world.

If you answered ANY of the above you would be correct, except for that hippie peace and light crap.  A new Harmonized Sales Tax has been introduced in BC and Ontario on July 1st that rolls our federal and provincial taxes into one harmonized tax (12% and 13% for BC and ON respectively). 

It's not that I'm vehemently opposed to this tax or taxes in general.  If you want to use health services and drive on roads you've got to pay tax, 'cause nothing comes for free.  And I can see the benefits in lower government administration costs and yadda yadda...IN THE LONG RUN.

In the short term, however, it is an administrative nightmare, as I'm sure New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland would attest, as they rolled out this amalgamated tax in 1997.  In theory it sounds easy enough to comply with.  Change the tax rates in your accounting system to reflect the new rates, right?  How hard could that be?

Okay, so we have GST, PST, and HST.  Let's see...we can zero out the PST because we're not charging that in BC anymore. The prairies, territories, PEI and Quebec can stay on GST. Ontario and BC can change to HST.  Oh, BC HST is not the same percent as Ontario and the maritimes. Shoot. I guess we have to create a new tax group for BC; I'll call it BCHST.

Compare tax rates to the list...check check...wait...when did they announce an increase for Nova Scotia?  Everything is so focused on BC and ON, this is the first I've even heard of it. 15%???  Hmm...well, I guess we need a new tax group for NSHST.  Okay, we've got GST, HST, BCHST, NSHST, and USA for our exempt American customers.  Why can't we just have one tax?  Now we go through the list of customers and change the tax codes for the affected provinces.  Oh, and the vendors too. Right. Better to export that list to Excel to make the changes.  Way too many to do manually.  Okay, I think we're ready to roll forward and start invoicing.

WTF??? Aw crap. Stupid system is giving me an error message.  What did I do wrong?  Google Accpac Knowledge Base...no help there.  Delete, change, change, delete, change. Still getting an error message.  Aha! These orders were taken prior to July 1st.  I have to change the tax groups manually for all these orders?  Damn. That sucks. Re-enter, change, change, save.  Okay, moving on.  What? The purchase orders won't post now? Grrr.... Oh, I deleted that tax group and changed the name. Sigh...now to re-enter BCHST for all the BC vendors again.  Hey, a good job for the intern!

Lalalalalala...time to file the GST/HST for June.  Enter, enter, typity, typity...what? What is that line? That wasn't there last month. What does that mean? What are these Recaptured Input Tax Credits? Google, google, google some more.  $#!%  Do I have to do that?  Until 2018???  Are we a large business?

"Annual taxable supplies in excess of $10 million"
"Annual taxable sales of over $10,000,000"
"making taxable supplies worth more than $10 million annually"
"(E/F) × (365 – G)"

WTF??? Somebody translate this!  Google, don't let me down!  Ohhhh...annual revenue of $10 million or more.  Why didn't they say so?  Whew. So as long as we don't have revenue over $10M until 2018 I won't have to separate out a percentage of the HST every month. I never thought I would wish for low sales!

Let's see what the government spin doctors said about this HST:

Lower compliance cost.
  Not if you are a large business and have to hire someone just to make sure your RITCs are in compliance.

Lower cost of doing business. Not so far...as I'm working overtime to solve this!

Create new jobs. Not if you work for the provincial sales tax department for the government. Now that it's eliminated, you might be out of a job. Oh wait, there are some jobs opening up in big businesses to make sure RITCs are in order. I guess that would be a new job.

Savings passed on to consumers.  Ahahahahaha...that one's funny. Oh, you're serious? If a business had a choice to lower their prices or post increased profits, which do you think they would choose? And their suppliers won't be lowering their prices either so where are these savings?

Higher wages. Isn't that a bit presumptuous? Aside from minimum wage, isn't that the choice of the business? The business who is creating new jobs and passing savings on to customers will also have oodles of dough to inflate salaries? Okay...if you say so. I wouldn't turn it down.

Funding for health care. Well I certainly hope so! I have to wonder about the statement "Every dollar raised through the HST will be used to fund health services when the HST comes into effect on July 1, 2010".  Every dollar? The whole dollar? Isn't that a bit of hyperbole? I'm sure there are other programs and infrastructure that will benefit as well. Education, perhaps? Since our school boards have had to make cuts to reduce budget deficits this year?

Oh my God. I totally want to become a government spin doctor. I'm really good at Balderdash* and justifying my shopping habits. *Balderdash is a game where the best bullshitter wins.  Your job is to convince the other players that your definition to the word is correct.  I'm not lying.  Really!

Let's just call it like it is: a tax. Call it value-added if you will, but when you lick off the sugary coating it's still just a tax. Don't try to sell it, convince us, or otherwise cajole us. The government is a business, and the business needs more money. They've downsized departments and increased prices like any other business would. This is the part where the CEO gathers us all in the boardroom and says, "If we want to continue our health benefits, road travel, education and security enforcement, we need to make some changes to our efficiency and our sales policies."  And if you want to keep that job, you will pretty much do what he says because he's the boss.  That's just how it is.

Monday, July 12, 2010

What's in the Fridge? July 12

Lately we've been trying to use up leftovers and bits before buying more food.  We tend to waste a lot of food and it's really not necessary.  Plus it's time-consuming to run to the store after work and takeout gets expensive.  So I try to be creative (and healthy) with what we've got kicking around.

Tonight's dinner:  Couscous Salad, Sautéed Green Beans with Almonds and Barbecued Chicken Breast.

Dump leftover couscous from yesterday's lunch (who made that much???) into a bowl, drizzle with grapeseed oil, lemon juice, and rice vinegar, sprinkle with parsley, basil and dill, throw in diced cucumber end and the good bits from the wilting green onions.

In a pan, sautée green beans (these I bought from road-side farm stand yesterday) in a small bit of grapeseed oil. Season with salt, pepper, and the last crumbs from the sliced almonds bag.

Slice one lonely skinless barbecued chicken breast from Friday's dinner into thin slices.  Arrange artfully on plate.  Lick homemade bbq sauce from fingers.  Serve cold.  The chicken, not the fingers.

Voilà!  Dinner for 4 (and a little leftover for someone's lunch tomorrow).  Sorry, no pictures.  I'll try to remember next time before we chow down.

Time: 20 mins.
Health: 4/5
Taste: 5/5
Kid-friendly: Yes

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Nanny Goats in Panties

It just rolls off your tongue. Nanny goats. Nanny goats. Nanny goats in panties.  Margaret from Nanny Goats in Panties has been so kind as to post my goat pictures from our volunteer trip to S.A.I.N.T.S., Senior Animals in Need Today Society.

Help S.A.I.N.T.S. win a $20,000 grant! You can vote once a day until Aug. 22. Every time you vote you are making a huge difference for these animals.   www.theanimalrescuesite.com

Shelter Name: S.A.I.N.T.S.
Country: Canada      Prov: BC
Click search and VOTE - Repeat Daily!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On the road again...

Just can't wait to...sleep in my own bed tomorrow! We're packed to the gills in my boss's Lincoln Navigator, navigating our way back from an excursion to northern BC. Thank God he let me borrow it; we are 7 people and there is no way I could do the whole drive in one day if we took two cars. It's a 14 hour drive. Plus there is a DVD player for the kids (my daughter, sister and niece). We're on the second showing of Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.

It was our annual Newfie family reunion (anytime we get 20 of us together in one spot it's a reunion) and our Nannie's 80th birthday celebration. Somehow 80% of our family has migrated to northern BC; the other 20% are spread over Newfoundland, Ontario, and BC's lower mainland.

It is so beautiful up here. We have seen several deer, some baby deer, two black bears, some foxes, and as I type this on my Blackberry a moose just wandered across the highway.

I have eaten so much deliciousness on this trip. Good thing I packed the stretchy pants! My sister-in-law made us chicken and dumplings, pancakes and bacon, apple fritters...where there is family, there is food. Or where there is food, you will find our family!