COLUMN: Observations on the HST ‘discussion’

COLUMN: Observations on the HST 'discussion'

The level of misinformation and misunderstanding surrounding “discussion” on the HST is of major proportion.

The shallowness of most of the argument is astounding, and the rhetoric being spouted by opponents is disingenuous.

Here are some prime examples from the past month or so:

A web commenter: “I’m upset I have to pay HST on fuel, groceries, kids’ clothes, school supplies – basics that I can’t do without.”

Mostly, that’s wrong.

You don’t pay more for fuel under the HST. Groceries? No, just snack food – not “basics.”  Kids’ clothes? Only if they are adult-sized. School supplies? She got that one right.

The reality of HST is lost on a lot of people. Under the old seven per cent PST/five per cent GST structure, you still paid 12 per cent on the majority of your purchases. Only some items were PST exempt. The HST impacts about 17 per cent of all consumer spending. Say you spend $1,000 on a variety of consumer items. HST adds seven per cent to 17 per cent ($170) of those purchases – or $11.90.

All I’m saying is, do the math before corking off.

I can’t afford another $350 in tax per year (as calculated for the “average” B.C. family by an independent panel).

Does that actually apply to you?

Many of those griping about the HST are getting the low-income rebate, and some are even coming out ahead. The higher income brackets are hauling the heaviest HST load.

Also forgotten or ignored, is the fact that personal provincial income tax dropped by 25 per cent 10 years ago. And when the HST is lowered to 10 per cent in three years, we’ll have the lowest provincial tax rates in Canada, tied with Saskatchewan.

Big business are getting “us” to pay their tax bills for them.

Anti-corporate rhetoric from people who want their paycheques, but bash the companies that provide them.

The HST is considered sound policy by the majority of economists, who see it as an investment booster. That means more jobs. And over the long term, perhaps bigger paycheques. Taxing the hell out of big bad business does the opposite.

I’m still angry over the way the

Liberals introduced this.

That I get. I agree. And now … let’s get past it. Time and time again, governments – Liberal, NDP, Conservative, or any other you want to mention – have proven themselves remarkably inept at communicating with the public. But it’s time to wind down the drama and look at the actual long-term tax policy, which has been adopted by other provinces, and countries around the world.

There’s no guarantee they’ll keep the HST at 10 per cent.

Where’s the guarantee that a return to the PST will be locked at seven per cent for perpetuity, and all the previously exempt items stay that way?

They’re bribing us with our own money.

Public support has been gained and lost by doling out public money for programs and services since governments began. People complained about the 12 per cent, and the government promised to lower it. That could also be seen as listening and responding.

The government is getting $1.3 billion in extra taxes through the HST.

Apparently so. And B.C. is facing a $1-billion deficit. And people also want the best possible health care and education and social services and transit and amenities, and, and… and all of that requires taxes.

Vote down the HST to show the government who’s boss.

That’s a dumbed-down approach to setting economic policy. You want to punish the government? It’s called an election.

B.C. politics at its best… or not.

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