Letter: Going back to PST/GST called a mistake

What a huge and costly step backwards for all in B.C.

To the editor:

What a huge and costly step backwards for all in B.C—unless we are able to live free of taxes, the combined PST/GST (HST) was far superior and less costly on many fronts.

It was deemed business-friendly but bad for people. I just wonder what all those people do for a living. Unless they work for government, they either own a business or work for one.

If they are retired, then maybe they want to consider that the government needs plenty of income to pay for services and pensions.

Repaying the federal government billions, then collecting a little less tax and spending millions to build and run the bureaucracy to administer the new tax is going to be expensive, not to mention the export businesses (and jobs they provide) that will now be a little less inspired to locate in B.C.

Under the HST, a relatively small selection of personal goods and services were costing a little more.

However, under HST the businesses that people were employed at were also paying less to provide those services and jobs.

It’s true that consumer prices did not suddenly or directly come down with HST, but over time some did and others have been maintained despite inflation.

Today, a lot of services that now have to charge only GST have hiked or maintained the old tax-in price by fairly claiming that they have not increased prices for a while.

So much for saving a lot of money. Also, these businesses are now paying a lot of PST and they simply have to build that new cost into their prices in order to maintain a similar profit with which to pay their employees.

The world has changed a lot in recent years. Online purchases, most of which are placed outside of B.C., are becoming quite significant. B.C.’s PST is legally required on goods brought into the province but it’s complicated to collect and very difficult to enforce. As a result, it becomes more inviting to buy out of province.

At least with the HST, it was one tax for the whole country and very easy for one (federal) government to ensure that everyone charged the tax.

If everyone found a way to avoid the PST by buying out of province, then another form of tax revenue would be introduced.

But by then a number of the B.C. businesses that employ people in B.C. would no longer exist.

We need to be thinking just a little further beyond our immediate and selfish actions.

No doubt the provincial government did the wost possible job of promising one thing, doing the opposite, and then royally messing up any damage control.

I am probably just as unhappy (on a number of fronts) as most others. In Prince Edward Island, that province just started their HST but its provincial government had the foresight to reduce the overall tax by one per cent so that the new tax would truly be neutral.

In B.C., when the debate started to get ugly the government had the opportunity to do the same in order to give people comfort, trust and time to adjust and recognize the overall benefits.

The punishment was not unjustified, but we are now going to find out just how much each of us will pay as individuals and as a province for a long time to come.

All said, people are predictable, and any competent government should have recognized this on more than one occasion.


Michael Neill,  Kelowna



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