Scouts work on merit badge for tax preparation

British Columbia's boy scouts may "be prepared" for many things. But the provincial government's harmonized sales tax wasn't one of them. Last week, we told you the new regime would increase camp fees for sites run by charitable and religious groups by seven percent, putting an end to their provincial sales tax exemption. And that increase could have a "devastating effect" on Scouts Canada in British Columbia, according to the group's honourary solicitor Bruce Hallsor.

Speaking with Public Eye, Mr. Hallsor estimated scouting camps are going to have to collect an additional $250,000 in taxes when the HST comes into effect next year.

"This will be a very small revenue for the province," he said, "but it will have devastating effects on the very stretched finances of Scouts, which will have no choice but to pass on this cost directly to the young people who use our camps, some of whom will simply not be able to afford the extra cost."

Mr. Hallsor stated the resulting decrease in scouts attending camp would be "tremendously counter productive," citing the personal growth and skills development benefits associated with the experience.

Scouts Canada hasn't yet contacted government about the issue.

But, like many other charitable and religious groups, Mr. Hallsor said the scouts are hoping their camp fees will be made HST-exempt.

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