The harmonized sales tax will be disastrous for small businesses in B.C. and should be scrapped immediately, B.C. New Democrats argued yesterday.

NDP leader Carole James was among those who joined Lower Mainland small business owners in a rally against the new tax at 47th Avenue and Fraser Street.

“There’s no reason why (the provincial and the federal governments) can’t go back and undo this agreement by July 1,” said James.

“The HST will place a very heavy burden on all of us,” said Peter Chiu, Director of the Lower Mainland Grocers Association, who added that it was hard to say whether some enterprises would be able to stay in business.

However, not everyone is convinced that the harmonized tax will be a bane to small business.

“One of the greatest benefits of the HST is that it will be easier to administer; there will be fewer exceptions (and less paperwork) for small businesses,” said Candace Nancke, a certified general accountant.

While she acknowledges that small businesses may face increased expenses in the short term, Nancke says the elimination of “cost-layering” from the PST will eventually reduce prices for both small businesses and their customers.

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