You thought the Ontario golf industry had enough problems — crazy pesticide use regulations, battles with uninformed environmentalists, the economic downturn, Tiger’s ailing knee and now …. cue the drum roll … new taxes on greens fees as of yesterday’s budget that introduced the so-called “harmonized sales tax”:
Ontarians will pay more on virtually every product and service they use — gasoline, utilities, haircuts, home renovations, golf green fees, lawyers and massages — as the provincial government moves to a 13%, harmonized federal and provincial sales tax next year.
The only good news for those used to only paying the 5% GST on greens fees is you’ve got a year before this kicks in. Then your cost to golf just went up 8%.
I’d try to say apolitical about this but I think Premier Dalton McGuinty is a joke — and I’ve thought that for several years going back to the point where I interviewed him a couple of times for articles while working as a business reporter at the Financial Post. He has no real platform, won the last election by bribing unthinking voters with a holiday, and continues the typical tax-and-spend ways of most Liberal politicians. The golf industry employs a lot of people and brings in a lot of revenue to the province — but raising prices by 8% has got to hurt, especially in a market where clubs are already struggling with the downturn. Just what they needed — another hit to their bottom line.
One area that has got to be hit hard by the new taxes has got to be private course fees and initiations, which used to be subject to just the GST. These clubs were already struggling to find new members and at some of the more expensive clubs — Coppinwood east of Toronto or Magna GC in Aurora or Oakdale in Toronto — you’ve just added $8,000 to their bill.