Book soon and “beat the tax.”

That’s the advice of Revenue Minister John Wilkinson to anyone making recreational plans for the summer. “Flights within Canada, services like gym memberships, landscaping and … theatre tickets” will be cheaper if purchased Thursday or Friday, Wilkinson told the Toronto Star.

With the transition toward the harmonized sales tax starting Saturday, Ontarians should brace for levies on numerous goods and services to rise from either five per cent or eight per cent to 13 per cent.

But Wilkinson said yesterday that consumers — most of whom are receiving “transition” cheques of up to $1,000 per family starting in June — could get a tax break on many things by shopping early.

“Some businesses are having ‘beat the tax sales.’ The rules are very clear,” the minister said, referring to the transition regimen announced last Oct. 15 to relatively little fanfare.

Because of the lack of media coverage on the phase-in, many Ontarians are likely unaware that as of Saturday, they will begin being charged the full 13 per cent HST on anything to be used after July 1.

That means, for example, that a flight from Toronto to Vancouver booked within the next two days for travel anytime after Canada Day would be taxed at a lower rate than one bought this weekend.