Take politics out of HST discussion

In less than two weeks — August 5 to be exact — the provincial referendum on the HST will have been completed. That’s the deadline for getting your mail-in referendum ballot completed, and back to Elections BC.

The HST is about how the province manages our money.

In less than two weeks — August 5 to be exact — the provincial referendum on the HST will have been completed. That’s the deadline for getting your mail-in referendum ballot completed, and back to Elections BC.

However, today is also a critical date to ensure your voice is heard. If you haven’t received a referendum ballot, today is the deadline for requesting a referendum package to vote.

As you are well aware, the referendum is to allow you to have your say about retaining or scrapping the HST.

We’re not going to the polls per se, but if ever there was a time to ensure your voice was heard, this referendum is the time. To allow a small percentage of people, as is the current trend for voter turnout, to decide the economic future of our province is not right. If there ever was a time to stand up for the future of your province, and the collective future of yourself and your future generations, this is the time.

The BC Chamber of Commerce has long been a proponent of a value added tax system. Those opposed to the HST say it’s a benefit to big business.

In all of the extensive literature that I have been able to find, you would be hard pressed to find an economist of any political persuasion, in any jurisdiction that will not concur that a Harmonized Sales Tax will be good for the long term benefit of the economy of British Columbia. Take note they say the economy of British Columbia. Not big/medium/small business. All of British Columbia.

The education system, social systems, infrastructure improvements and maintenance, and everything else the government provides come from a treasury that is replenished annually by the economic activity of the province.

Personal income tax, royalties, corporate taxes, and the like, are the mainstay of government funding. The government does not have any money; all they have is our money.

A competitive, vibrant economy provides the funding for government to do all the things we have come to expect. Unsuccessful businesses, idled or decimated economic sectors, contribute very little to the government coffers. Unemployed people or those on assistance contribute very little, if anything, to the treasury.

Yes, the HST was implemented poorly by the government and people felt betrayed as to how it was put in place. The lack of information provided by government added to the confusion and anger towards “another” tax.

It’s not another tax, but really a streamlining of two taxes — the PST and GST into one HST.

What is confounding many people is that the 12 per cent applies across the board on most goods and services rather than just five per cent on some goods and services.

In the big picture, the government recognized the various disparities after implementation and thus the reduction to 10 per cent to put the consumer back on par with where they were pre-HST.

No one likes taxes, be they business or personal taxes, but they are a necessary evil.

If we are to rely on the government to pay for the increased level of services we demand these days — in health care, education and crime prevention — then government needs to pay for these services. Taxes need to be efficient and derived in a simple fashion.

The PST-GST was archaic in form, efficiency and derivation. Since businesses across the province are the collectors and remitters of such tax, they are tasked with the administrative burden of managing the tax.

These aren’t just big businesses, they are small businesses too. It is a little-known fact that 98 per cent of the businesses operating in the province employ fewer than 10 people. It is small business that has had to manage this archaic system.

If you haven’t made your decision yet or were thinking about not casting a ballot, I urge you to do so.

When you do, try and keep politics out of the question and look at the issue on a factual basis.

New changes to the HST mean lower taxes than the PST-GST. The government is committed to reducing the HST to 10 per cent, which is two points lower than the 12 per cent PST/GST.

Under that 10 per cent tax, economists estimate the average BC family will be paying $120 less per year than under the PST/GST. Children and seniors will receive $175 cheques issued until the 10 per cent HST takes effect.

So, if for some strange reason, you haven’t received your voting package, you have until 11:29 p.m. today. You can still call Elections BC at 1-800-661-8683.

I agree with the economists: voting no to keep the HST and lower taxes and keeping a value added tax, rather than reverting to the inefficient tax system like the PST and GST, makes sense to me and a growing number of individuals around the province.

Tom Thomson is the manager at the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce











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