The HST is up to voters

If the Liberals were sincere, they would make the changes now

Premier Christy Clark has promised to reduce the HST by two percentage points — over the next three years — as well as offer rebates to seniors and families with children under 18.

Taxes would also increase two per cent for corporations, while a planned tax cut for small businesses would be shelved to compensate for the revenue lost.

The rebates alone would cost the province more than $200 million.

Those cheques, for $175 each, would be mailed out at the end of the year, not in advance of the upcoming referendum on the HST. The rebate only comes if the HST survives.

Getting rid of it could cost B.C. half a billion dollars the first year alone. The province would also have to repay the $1.6 billion federal transition fund.

Cutting the HST just one percentage point will reduce revenues by $850 million a year, which is why the rate reduction would occur in phases, to lessen the effect on the B.C. budget.

The HST was supposed to be revenue neutral and create more jobs. A recent study has shown it has done neither — it actually costs families $350 more a year.

The proposed “fixes” to the HST are supposed to even things out, lessen the burden on average taxpayers. But if the Liberals were sincere, and not so concerned about getting re-elected, they would make the changes now.

Rather, they are being criticized for trying to buy votes — offering people their own money back to save the party’s own skin after rolling out the HST shortly after the last provincial election and without public consultation.

Such folly might be too much to overcome, but voters must first ask themselves, is the province better off with the HST, with the proposed changes and even without?

Decide for yourself:

— editorial by the Maple Ridge News/Black Press


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