Mike Martin is mad. He’s had it up to here with the new HST, and he’s fighting it tooth and nail.

Chair of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association Renovators’ Council and incoming Chair of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, Mike met with Bob Chiarelli, MPP, Ottawa West-Nepean in July to discuss the implications of the HST on the renovation industry in Ontario.

The additional 8 per cent tax is driving clients right into the web of uncertified renovators, he says. These “underground” labourers charge less if you pay them in cash, and the practice is causing serious problems. No one wins except the guys who grab the money and run.

Business is slowing down, he says. The new jobs just aren’t coming in.

He was looking forward to the results of  an independent poll by Ipsos-Reid, sponsored by the Ontario Home Builders’ Association, to determine how big the underground economy really is and how the HST affects it. The poll is a survey of 5,000 renovators and customers around Ontario.

He says the renovation industry is pushing hard for a 5.4 per cent reduction in taxes, or rebate, for renovation clients. (The money would go directly back to the client, and not to the renovator.)

He explains that out of the 13 per cent combined taxes, 2.6 per cent of the PST is already imbedded in what renovators pay for materials.

If the remaining 5.4 per cent was returned to the client, “We’d get rid of the underground economy in a heartbeat”, he says. He cites as an example the powerful effect of last year’s 15 per cent tax rebate, which was a boon to certified renovators but bad for “fly-by-night” contractors.

He is determined to keep on fighting.

“It’s not a dead issue yet,” he says.