As we learned from the recent federal election, voters can make huge differences if they’re unhappy with the way they’re being governed.
That’s why it’s critical for the people of B.C. to make the right choice when the referendum on whether to extinguish the HST arrives in mailboxes between June 13 and 24.
If you look at the facts, we think it’s a fool’s errand to believe going back to the GST/PST would be of any financial benefit to the people of this province.
Anger over the introduction of the harmonized sales tax remains palpable among British Columbians. The bungled implementation directly led to former premier Gordon Campbell stepping down and stoked the fires that helped another former premier, Bill Vander Zalm, inspire a movement to collect 700,000 petitions opposing the change in tax regimes.
Last week, an independent review of the HST was released and immediately provided grist for countless talk-show callers and newspaper letter-writers around B.C. Most were quick to point out that the HST does cost most people more and, unlike promised, will add more than $800 million to the province’s revenue.
Fewer noted that the report also concluded the HST will realize numerous benefits over time, including a boost of $2.5 billion to the B.C. economy (which works out to $830 per family) and the creation of 24,000 “better-paying” jobs by the end of this decade.
It makes no sense to return to a cascading tax system, where hidden taxes complicate costs for producers. It’s something that’s been abandoned in most places in the world in favour of consumption taxes such as the HST.
The province, under pressure from Ottawa, screwed up the introduction of the HST.
We expect both levels of government to reassure British Columbians by lowering the HST’s current 12 per cent tax rate to make the HST revenue-neutral as promised.
The current deal won’t allow the province to unilaterally lower the rate until July 1, 2012.
But unless there’s political will to expedite changes, waiting until next year could very well be too late.