GST - include or exclude in prices?

Last week saw an allocation of tour operators (is there a better name for a collection of these good people?) descending on Jersey to contract hotels for 2008. It just so happened that their visit coincided with the Jersey Hospitality Association's quarterly forum at which the guest speaker was the government's Goods and Services Tax guru, Steve Lowthorpe.

Leaving aside the whole issue of the tour operator margin scheme and on which elements of the package GST will be charged, the main gripe seemed to revolve around the lack of time to prepare. We were promised a full 12 months to deal with the implementation of the tax, but the issue is from what date the clock started ticking. Government says April because that's when the GST law was passed - even though neither the actual date for implementation, nor on what basis it would be applied, had been resolved.

Anyway it looks as if April 2008 is going to be the month when GST comes in. The question is should suppliers include or exclude the tax when issuing rates to tour operators for next year? The decision is mainly down to whether or not the hotel's operating system can be programmed to apply a tax to whatever rates are loaded. If it can, then it surely makes sense to provide rates exclusive of tax, in order that it can be applied at the correct rate on the right date.

So far, operators seem happy with this approach. Has anyone had any different experience or do you have a different view?

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