Ontario grants protection to cheap fast food - Macleans.ca

Ontario grants protection to cheap fast food

Fast food under $4 will be exempt from HST


Books, children’s clothing, diapers, and newspaper subscriptions are among the products Ontario has exempted from the 8 per cent provincial component of the 13 per cent harmonized sales tax that will be implemented next July. And as of Thursday, a new kind of purchase will added to the list: cheap fast food. Finance officials plan to announce the exemption of fast food items under $4 at a Toronto Tim Hortons. Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan and Revenue Minister John Wilkonson say the new tax scheme will create an estimated 591,000 new jobs in Ontario. Opposition parties dismiss the HST as a tax grab.

CBC News

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Ontario grants protection to cheap fast food

  1. "the exemption of fast food items under $4"

    I always support tax breaks but hypocrisy of Libs is breathtaking. I wonder how much more money Eat Right Ontario will know receive from taxpayers to counteract Lib policy that encourages people to eat crap. I also wonder what Eat Smart! restaurants think of this – healthy restaurants get to put a sticker on their door while fast food places get tax breaks to encourage consumption.

    • Completely agree.

      Of course, what's especially funny about this is that it blows away any remnants of credibility for Harper's fluff piece that gaining Tim Hortons will gain us any extra tax revenue.

      • To the extent that "Canada" is synonymous with "Ontario" and taxes on small-ticket retail sales are equivalent to the sorts of taxes on corporate operations Harper was referring to and the implication that this move was a response to us getting Tim Horton's back (i.e. if the Ontario government was going to exempt cheap fast food anyway then Harper's announcement is irrelevant; whether Tim Horton's re-re-location adds or subtracts tax revenue is a distinct issue).

        But yeah, this is a bush league move by a bush league provincial government. Utterly blatant corporate pandering without even the courtesy of a veneer of social engineering.

  2. This feels like a lobbyist effort. I can't see the rational behind this. I don't buy the "creating jobs" line. If you're going to tax things, fast food is a no-brainer.

  3. What's irritating about sales taxes is not the tax itself, it's watching the tax being added to one's bill. Having spent a couple of weeks in Buenos Aires recently, where they have the same system as they have in Europe, i.e. what you pay is what you see advertised, it's a real pain in the ass to buy things here in Ontario, I just feel ripped off all the time. I mean, you buy a $4 sandwich — or rather $3.99 — and next thing you know you're paying $4.51! What the hell!

    I say: require businesses to include tax in their prices, and get rid of pennies and nickles altogether.

    • Better to buy your sandwich for 5.95 Euros, and not feel ripped off?

  4. woah this is a weird one..how would this create jobs,,,does not make any sense …? why don't they just cut taxes if cutting tax creates jobs…and if you get $4 hst free a smart person would make them split the bill if you are gonna go over $4…and lastly why do they want to support people eating junk food…aren't ontariens wide enough?

  5. I remember the GST working in THE EXACT OPPOSITE direction. Food in sizes large enough to fill your fridge or feed a family: no tax. "Convenience" food: tax. I recall chocolate milk cartons of 501 mL that were tax-free because the rules had any volume up to 500 mL taxable. Maybe it's still like that, but I suppose the taxman wised up and upped he tax-free limit to 999 mL or something.

    I agree this Ontario plan is stupid. Simplified harmonization, good for business because it's one rule for two taxes: poof.

    So, how does this work? If my cheeseburger is 3.49, and my fries are 1.99, and the Coke is 2.19, then I don't pay tax, 'cuz each item is under four bucks? And then, if I ask for "Combo Number 6" (containing exactly the aforementioned items) for 5.99, all of a sudden it's taxable?

    • why don't they just make that all food and drink is nontaxable? junk food is taxable, yet you can go buy something unhealthy like red meat or lard or cake and that's untaxable

      • Hey man, take it easy on the lard! Its better than shortening or margarine.

        • also makes a nice hair gell –at least it did for Alfafa on the Little Rascals

    • And then, if I ask for "Combo Number 6" (containing exactly the aforementioned items) for 5.99, all of a sudden it's taxable?

      Very good point.

    • You shouldn't get the fries, MYL.

      • Then you should probably worry more about the Coke…

    • "So, how does this work? If my cheeseburger is 3.49, and my fries are 1.99, and the Coke is 2.19, then I don't pay tax, 'cuz each item is under four bucks? And then, if I ask for "Combo Number 6" (containing exactly the aforementioned items) for 5.99, all of a sudden it's taxable?"

      You pay the same tax either way – the tax is on the *total*, not each individual item.

      Unless, of course, you have them ring it in as three separate transactions.

      • Yeah I do that at Tim's. I order a sandwich or 2 wraps for $3.99. Pay the bill with only GST ($4.20). Then when the transaction is completed I go "Oh I forgot… I'll take an iced cap (or coffee) with that too." New transaction… no PST on either. You can do the same with McD's Value menu or BK's King Deals. Hehe. I'm glad I'll be able to keep doing this, although it would be nice if they could now get gasoline and bus/plane tickets exempted too. That's where folks will get pinched the most.

      • Oh, great, so now I gotta stand behind FrankTalker in the "fast"-food line while he rings up his order one thing at a time?

        • It shouldn't happen any more or less, considering this rule has already been in place for decades.

  6. 5.90, under my scheme. And I'd prefer it in AR$.

    • Jack Mitchell: your man in the fight for opacity in government. Oh, and the criminal destruction of legitimate businesses. Now there's a slogan.

      • I'm theorising that getting walloped every time with an unexpected surcharge discourages consumption, via long-term cynicism, i.e. that the public is not, over the long term, stupid.

        • Hiding the tax within a higher price versus displaying it added to a lower price has nothing to do with whether consumers are stupid. Just informed.

          • Informed that the sales taxes exist? I doubt people are so slack as to require five reminders a day. From my point of view, the price is what you fork over, not what's advertised.

          • Really? How front-of-mind was the Manufacturer's Sales Tax (or whatever it was called) that bogged down the chain of production in this country before it was replaced by the GST?

          • It doesn't have a wikipedia entry, so I can't really answer that.

            I'm only concerned about retail sales. By all means, uncloak the tax for manufacturers and wholesalers.

          • Pssst… that old tax was buried in the retail price. Why are you so eager to hide the government from the governed?

            Oh, and I just did a wee bit of googling: it was called the MST (manufacturer's or manufacturers' — the web has both — sales tax).

          • Yes, but it doesn't have a wikipedia entry. Ergo it is not important.

            "Why are you so eager to hide the government from the governed?"

            Because in this case, i.e. paying $4.51 every time instead of the as-advertised $3.99, being governed sucks, even if it's necessary; and it's painful to be reminded of the fact over and over again simply because some (cough, cough) people fantasise that sales taxes will ever be eliminated.

            Anyway, you haven't answered my initial question: wouldn't a "what you pay is what you get" approach encourage consumption?