Yes, the Harmonized Sales Tax means more consumers will be paying more tax overall.
And yes, the HST has hurt local businesses in the tourism and restaurant industry (one has been sold and others are witnessing a decline in sales — some of that due to new provincial drinking and driving laws).
Yet, neither of those reasons will play the biggest role when it comes to next month’s mail-in referendum on the tax.
The biggest obstacle to keeping the HST in B.C. is people’s continuing anger over how it was implemented. Many folks simply do not believe the BC Liberals — or whatever their name is now — that “it wasn’t on the radar screen” during the last provincial election.
Information has since revealed that, yes, a value added tax (of which the HST is one) was discussed in various forms with the government well in advance of that election. Perhaps its implementation was not in the official policy statements, but enough government bureaucrats knew about it to have it ready to go so soon after the election.
That angered people, who felt betrayed. After all, no one likes taxes and a sea change in provincial tax policy is something in which we’d all like a say.
Now, electors get their chance to do just that, by filling out ballots and mailing them to Elections BC next month and into July.
The province and bodies such as the Business Council of B.C. are hoping the anger has abated enough to reach folks that are undecided on the HST — and perhaps convince a few others that the new tax is not the end of the world. Good luck with that.
— editorial by Steven Heywood