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Thomson: Seeking the truth about the HST
As HST ballots start to arrive in mailboxes across B.C. this week, there’s a lot of information out there—and a lot of misinformation as well.
There’s no question we didn’t handle the initial delivery of the HST well, which made a lot of people angry. That’s understandable. But it’s hard to make an informed decision about something as significant as the HST when you’re upset.
That’s relevant, because there’s a lot of misinformation out there, much of which seems to come from Fight HST. Recently, they listed a “Top Seven Myths” about the HST, which they claim are deliberate attempts from the provincial government to mislead voters.
Take the 10 per cent HST. They make competing claims here—that it will never drop to 10 per cent, or it will quickly be increased back up to 12 per cent or higher.
This is simply not true. Provided British Columbians vote “No” to the GST/PST system, the scheduled two-stage reduction has been committed to with a motion in the provincial legislature, and by Order in Council in Ottawa—meaning the scheduled reduction to 10 per cent is a matter of federal law.
Fight HST also claims the HST will hurt families and seniors. Again, this simply isn’t true.
By reducing overall sales tax from 12 to 10 per cent, people will be paying less.
The Independent Panel Report on the HST—which Fight HST quotes when it suits them—demonstrates that lower-income seniors come out far ahead under the HST, as opposed to the GST/PST combination. In fact, at 10 per cent, people in every single tax bracket benefit from the HST. During the transition from 12 to 10 per cent, families will receive $175 transition cheques for each child under 18, as will low-income seniors.
Low-income seniors will continue to receive the provincial portion of the HST rebate, which adds up to $230 per year.
Fight HST also claims businesses won’t pass on savings under the HST. To compensate for lowering the HST to 10 per cent, we announced a two per cent raise in the corporate tax rate.
Fight HST said that increased cost would be passed onto consumers. So according to Fight HST, business won’t lower prices based on savings from the HST, but will pass on increased cost from a slightly higher corporate tax rate?
They can’t have it both ways.
The most upsetting misrepresentation, however, was not in the seven “myths,” but in some TV and radio ads. You’ve probably seen them. Mr. Vander Zalm implores British Columbians to scrap the HST and “keep all your money.”
That’s not just misleading, but irresponsible. The choice isn’t between the HST and no sales tax whatsoever, but between the HST and the combined GST/PST— period, full stop.
I ran for office with the B.C. Liberals in no small part because I believe in responsible fiscal policy and management.
I believe the HST continues that legacy—it’s better for the economy and people of B.C.
For more information, visit www.hstinbc.ca.
Steve Thomson is the Liberal MLA for Kelowna-Mission.