HST costs average family $350 a year

Former Alberta treasurer Jim Dinning chaired B.C.'s independent panel on the impact of the harmonized sales tax.

VICTORIA – The independent panel reviewing the impact of B.C.’s harmonized sales tax has concluded that it increases prices for 17 per cent of an average family’s purchases, totalling $350 a year.

The panel was appointed by the B.C. government as part of preparations for a mail-in referendum on the HST that begins in mid-June. The panel released its report Wednesday, after a delay to avoid release during the federal election.

It finds that the B.C. government is getting more revenue than it expected in the first year of the HST. The finance ministry’s initial projections were that rebates for low-income families, home energy use and other exemptions would make the tax revenue neutral in the early years.

The report concludes that going back to the former provincial sales tax would cost the province $531 million in net tax revenues in the first year, with the amount increasing in subsequent years. That is in addition to the repayment of a $1.6 billion transition fund paid in instalments by the federal government to B.C.

One reason for the higher revenues that the HST hasn’t deterred spending as expected.

The report notes that while restaurants reported a drop in sales when the HST increased taxes by seven per cent in July 2010, that is not borne out by Statistics Canada measurement. It found that between June 2010 and January 2011, restaurant industry sales increased three per cent in B.C., the same as the national increase over that time.

The report also undercuts the government’s estimate of jobs created due to new business investment. It calculates that The HST will generate 24,400 “better paying” jobs by the end of the decade. The B.C. government has been citing a study by University of Calgary economist Jack Mintz that projected 113,000 new jobs.

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon shrugged off the lower estimate of jobs, saying the public is skeptical about any forecasts of future job growth.

“I think what this report tells us is that it may be a low of 24,000 jobs, or it could be as high as 113,000 jobs, but there will be lots of new jobs created,” Falcon said.

The panel’s report is available at the provincial government’s dedicated website, http://www.hstinbc.ca/

The website also has a new survey form where people can make recommendations on possible changes to the HST. Premier Christy Clark confirmed Wednesday that the government will offer proposed changes to the HST before people vote in the referendum.

Just Posted

Many teens unaware if they’re vaping nicotine or not

Health Canada survey finds many youth are unaware of the risks of using nicotine products

UVic partners with harm reduction groups to run a drug checking pilot project

The three-year pilot will allow people to test their drugs for fatal ingredients like fentanyl

Public asked to give feedback on proposed protection measures for southern resident orcas

Measures focus on key threats related to contaminants, lack of prey, noise or physical disturbance

Oak Bay double murder trial enters second week

Defence continues to question police handling of crime scene

Volunteers needed for annual Mother’s Day walk

Breast Cancer Society of Canada hosts annual Mother’s Day event

WATCH: Police call Happy Valley shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident

One person in custody, another fled following crash on Kelly Road

Wanted by Crime Stoppers

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you think the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt?

Images of one of the word’s most iconic landmarks were seared into… Continue reading

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

Most Read