Groups headed to Canada after next April are bracing for a proposed federal tax overhaul that would eliminate the rebate that non-Canadian meeting organizers, exhibitors, and attendees can apply for after paying Canada's 6 percent value-added tax, called the Goods and Services Tax, or GST (a federal component of the Harmonized Sales Tax). The rebate of the GST compensates visitors for the value-added tax imposed on convention and meeting space expenditures, audiovisual, hotel room rates (but not meals, which will continue to be GST-exempt), exhibit-related fees, attractions, other goods and services, and gifts that will be brought back home.

If the law passes, all these items will, in effect, be 6 percent more expensive for non-Canadian groups after its effective date of April 1. But some meetings-specific elements of the proposed law wouldn't take effect until April 1, 2009, if they were negotiated as part of a contract before the proposal was announced September 26. The change needs to be voted on in both Canada's House of Commons and its Senate, but at press time in late December, Canada's Department of Finance could not provide a timeline for an ultimate decision.