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TORONTO, June 29  /CNW/ - This Canada Day will mark a significant milestone for Ontario's economy and long term prosperity, an Ontario business coalition says.

The planned harmonization of the Ontario Retail Sales Tax (RST) with the Federal GST is the most important measure available to stimulate economic recovery and ensure Ontario's prosperity, says the Smart Taxation Alliance, a coalition of business leaders representing a broad section of Ontario's economy.

Ontario will significantly reduce business costs by the billions of dollars, which will stimulate new investment, jobs and competitive prices in the years to come. The alternative is to continue with Ontario's high tax threshold, plagued with a costly and inefficient RST which adds billions of dollars to the cost of doing business, which is ultimately paid by the consumer. Clearly the status quo is not an option for the Smart Taxation Alliance.

Positive impacts of a single sales tax, when combined with other personal and business tax reforms will include:

    -  Cutting the marginal effective tax rate on new investment in half,
       thereby increasing both domestic and foreign investment in Ontario;
    -  Encouraging business investment in Ontario and the creation of jobs;
    -  Cutting in half the red tape suffered by businesses in Ontario in the
       collection, remittance and auditing of sales taxes, for an estimated
       annual savings of $500 million;
    -  Removing layers of embedded taxes in goods and services throughout
       Ontario valued at roughly $5 billion;
    -  All economic sectors contributing equally to revenue generation in
       the province; and,
    -  Increasing competitiveness of Ontario business, particularly those
       who export their goods and services.

The Smart Taxation Alliance includes the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, AGS Automotive Systems, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Council of Chief Executives, Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors, Canadian Manufacturer's & Exporters Ontario, Council of Ontario Construction Associations, Certified General Accountants of Ontario, Gennum Corporation, Information Technology Association of Canada, Ontario Automobile Dealer Association, Ontario Road Builders' Association, Ontario Trucking Association, Railway Association of Canada, Retail Council of Canada, TD Bank Financial Group, TELUS, Toronto Automobile Dealer Association and the Toronto Board of Trade.

    "The tax rate on business investment in Ontario had put us at a
    disadvantage next to our peer jurisdictions in the US and Canada. As of
    July 1, Ontario will be far better positioned to become a magnet for
    investment and innovation. This is why we need tax reforms, most
    importantly, sales tax harmonization."

             Len Crispino, President & CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce

    "Transforming the province's sales tax regime with HST is sound tax
    policy. It strengthens Ontario's supportive tax environment and improves
    regulatory efficiency which enable Ontario businesses to compete

                                Winston Woo, Director, AGS Automotive Systems

    "CME has advocated for the HST as it will make us better prepared to
    compete and win in the global marketplace. The move to a harmonized tax
    will help companies improve productivity, create jobs, grow the economy
    and enhance Ontario's standard of living."

     Ian Howcroft, Vice President, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters Ontario

    "Ontario's vehicle manufacturers export 85% of their production and
    continually compete against assembly plants globally to win new
    investment and production mandates. The HST, coupled with other tax
    changes such as corporate tax reductions and the elimination of the
    capital tax, are critical to the industry's long term competitiveness
    and our ability to retain tens of thousands of high skilled jobs for

         Mark Nantais, President, Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association

    "As we prepare for successful transition to the new harmonized sales tax,
    it's important to remember the positive attributes that HST will bring,
    particularly in support of the small business community. HST will help
    fuel a stronger business investment climate in Ontario, create jobs and
    accelerate Ontario's recovery."

                   Doug Brooks, CEO, Certified General Accountants of Ontario

    "The HST is crucial to both the short-term recovery and the long-term
    prosperity of Ontario's manufacturing sector. The implementation of the
    HST was a much-needed first step to help make Ontario manufacturers more
    competitive, to encourage investment and innovation, and to safeguard
    Ontario manufacturing jobs."

           Richard Paton, President, Chemistry Industry Association of Canada

    "Progressive economies are embracing the competitiveness of valued added
    tax structures. Ontario's economy and the construction industry have a
    lot to gain from the HST. Tax savings for construction businesses will
    be significant to our members and that means more well-paid new jobs to
    help build the new Ontario's prosperous future."

      Ian Cunningham, President, Council of Ontario Construction Associations

    "The OGCA has recognizes and appreciates the value of a single tax
    system to our industry and the positive effect it will have. The
    Ministry's cooperation in addressing our concerns regarding the
    implementation of the HST and its effect on the tender process and
    ongoing projects shows that this bold endeavor will improve the business
    climate in Ontario. "

          Clive Thurston, President, Ontario General Contractors' Association

    "Modernizing our sales tax system is an essential step in driving growth
    and infrastructure investment in this province. As builders of both
    provincial and municipal infrastructure, our businesses -and in turn the
    taxpayer - will recognize the benefits of reducing the administrative
    burden through the simplification of our tax structure."

         Rob Bradford, Executive Director, Ontario Road Builders' Association

    "Modernizing the way Ontario taxes business inputs by harmonizing the
    provincial retail sales tax and the multi-jurisdictional vehicle tax
    with the GST, will help stimulate investment in new, more productive,
    safer and more environmentally-benign equipment. And, since trucks are
    responsible for moving about three-quarters of Ontario's trade with the
    United States, it will ultimately help to improve Ontario's economic
    competitiveness leading to more jobs and greater prosperity."

               David Bradley, President and CEO, Ontario Trucking Association

    "By simplifying the province's tax structure the HST will take costs and
    double-taxation out of our business, and thousands of other businesses
    across the province. That will make Ontario a more attractive and
    competitive place to do business, encouraging innovation and price
    reductions for consumers and exports."

                    Robert McFarlane, Executive Vice-President and CFO, TELUS

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