Selling HST to the ‘me’ generation

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon explains the impact of scrapping the HST to reporters in Victoria Wednesday.

VICTORIA – Even if all you care about is your own wallet, the harmonized sales tax just became an offer you shouldn’t refuse.

Premier Christy Clark promised a “bold” fix for the HST, and she delivered. For months I have been arguing that the only way to overcome the wave of rejection caused by the panicked introduction of the HST is to offer a rate cut. I expected one per cent.

Now if you vote to keep it, a second one-per-cent reduction will be largely financed by reversing some of the B.C. Liberals’ business tax cuts of recent years. It not only sweetens the deal for consumers, it’s great politics.

First, let’s look at it from a selfish, short-term perspective, the way some readers loudly remind me they view the world. If you vote next month to go back to the provincial sales tax, the 12-per-cent PST-GST on goods that you probably didn’t notice before will continue. If you have kids under 18 or are a senior living on less than $40,000 a year, you will be saying no to a $175-per-person bonus cheque.

If you only care about yourself, you won’t care about the loss of HST credits to the poorest people in B.C. You won’t care about the province repaying Ottawa’s transition fund, or rebuilding a B.C. sales tax department to force business to convert their billing systems again. You won’t care about the competitive advantage given to Ontario, unless it costs you your job.

When the B.C. government of the day has to cut services to pay for this disastrous reversal, you’ll denounce them for doing what you told them to do. You will get the government you deserve, which may include a PST extended to restaurant meals or haircuts, because the money has to come from somewhere.

When Clark’s HST “fix” was unveiled, it was the NDP’s turn to panic. They have painted themselves into a corner, and now face the prospect of arguing for a return to an archaic sales tax with a higher rate.

And once again, Bill Vander Zalm and Chris Delaney tour B.C. in their Fight HST conspiracy clown car, refueled by $250,000 of public funds to campaign in the referendum.

Their campaign of fear and ignorance is encountering heavy resistance at university and college campuses, however, as tax experts fact-check their claims on the spot.  (They’ve added “rallies” in an effort to keep fear alive.)

Delaney still raves about Europe being the cause of all this alleged human misery with their insidious Value Added Tax. Vander Zalm continues to mutter about a plot to establish world government through carbon taxes and the HST.

It would be nice if the NDP-Fight HST crowd were concerned about the wave of retiring baby boomers that is starting to wash across the country. But they’re not.

There are changes happening now in the B.C. economy that 1960s socialism and 1980s populism are not equipped to handle. The living standard of our children is going to be determined by how we deal with our aging, globalizing population, and this is one reason to understand a shift to consumption taxes.

Fourteen months ago I wrote that more U.S. states are joining Washington, Hawaii and others with sales taxes on services as well as goods. Robert Kleine, treasurer for Michigan, explained it this way:

“The basic thing is that we need to update our tax structure. We’ve got a 20th-century tax structure based on a different sort of economy. The tax base doesn’t grow as the economy grows.”

Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com

www.twitter.com/tomfletcherbc

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Man sentenced for sexually assaulting woman while partying in Revelstoke

The man must now be registered as a sex offender for 10 years

Wind this afternoon for Revelstoke area

Roads and weather for Feb. 24

Revelstoke skiers bring home three gold medals from BC Winter Games

The games were held in Fort St. John Feb. 20-23

Grizzlies playing Kamloops in round one of playoffs

They finished the regular season with 39 wins and six losses

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Two scout leaders missing near Sooke after swollen creek traps troop

Third leader and scouts located, while search continues for two leaders who’d gone for help

Snowfall warning in effect for the Coquihalla Highway

An unstable airmass is producing heavy flurries over parts of the southern highway passes

B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sex crimes in landmark #MeToo trial

The cases against the Hollywood mogul started the #MeToo movement

Hidden treasures of the Okanagan’s Curiosity Shop

A set of celluloid topped glove and collar boxes are some of the many interesting finds in Keremeos

Vernon protest draws close to 40 people

Earth Strike Vernon holds peaceful rally in support of Wet’suwet’en people and land

CRA puts focus on paper returns as tax-filing season opens

The federal tax collector expects to handle about two million paper returns this calendar year out of roughly 26 million filings

Most Read