The manager of the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce says the harmonized sales tax’s defeat in a mail-in referendum “seemed inevitable,” despite growing public sentiment to keep it.
Tom Thomson, who supported the tax, was “disappointed but not surprised” the tax was shot down, but notes the 55 per cent who ultimately voted against keeping it was much less than early opinion polls which showed 85 per cent of BC residents opposed.
“Once information started getting out to the public more consistently, that started to change the flow, but it never got to the point where it was soundly endorsed,” he says.
Thomson says many in the business community felt the HST was a progressive tax that streamlined their bureaucracy, “but the public certainly spoke.”
He worries businesses will think twice now about major capital investments, but says the Chamber will lobby government to look at salvaging something in returning to the old tax structure.
“You may implement the PST the way it was before, but perhaps there are some efficiencies that could still be maintained,” he says. “Let’s look at some options to take what was good about the HST and reinvent it with the implementation of the PST.”
Thomson adds he remains “a little concerned” the transition period will result in confusion and uncertainty.
“I still believe the HST would have been a very efficient tax and beneficial to the business community and general public,” he says.