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Confusion over new tax lingers

In the market for a gym membership or a new car? Pondering the purchase of a new bike or a bigger house?

In the market for a gym membership or a new car? Pondering the purchase of a new bike or a bigger house?

Better buy post-haste, say advertisers hoping to cash in on the harmonized sales tax that takes effect July 1 in Ontario and British Columbia.

The looming HST has given rise to some innovative marketing, and experts say it’s likely to boost sales in the next couple of months, even though it’s still far from certain which items will actually jump in price.

“We think consumers are still totally confused,” said Vancouver-based Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers’ Association of Canada.

“There isn’t any reliable source of information for us to make our decisions on.”

Purchasers of homes costing more than $525,000 will definitely be hit with tax hikes, there’s no definitive list of what else will cost consumers more. The tally for services like hair cuts, accounting and funerals will likely rise, but it’s unclear if goods like furniture and electronics will go up, down or stay the same.

HST-backers suggest retailers should be able to actually lower prices once the provincial sales tax they now pay out is no longer in effect, and they pass along the savings.

One company advises the public can save money by pre-purchasing season tickets to the theatre before it’s required to start collecting HST.

“It’s expected businesses would promote those types of sales,” said Tatiana Chabeaux-Smith, a spokeswoman at Consumer Protection B.C. “There doesn’t seem to be anything deceptive — it’s a sales tactic.”

 
 
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