Selling HST to the ‘me’ generation

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

Just Posted

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

From left to right: Mark Walter, BJ Gillis, Kyle Munro and Danny Gillis of the Alberni Valley Disc Golf Club stand beside one of the newly-installed baskets at Dry Creek Park. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Port Alberni’s second disc golf course on the way at Dry Creek Park

Dry Creek Park will be closed for development for a week beginning June 21

A mantle of smoke overhangs the city of Port Alberni, indicating a thermal inversion of the sort that commonly traps harmful smoke particulate in winter. (MIKE YOUDS PHOTO)
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District one step closer to burning bylaws

ACRD staff make amendments after public engagement

Aidan See played for the North Island Silvertips during the 2019-2020 season. (PHOTO COURTESY RON HAYES)
VIJHL: Port Alberni Bombers add hometown talent to roster

Junior B hockey club signs Aidan See, Blake Power and Grayson Erickson

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

In the first election with public money replacing corporate or union donations, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau and B.C. NDP leader John Horgan take part in election debate at the University of B.C., Oct. 13, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. MLAs ponder 2022 ‘sunset’ of subsidy for political parties

NDP, B.C. Fed call for increase, B.C. Liberals have no comment

Investigators use a bucket to help recover human remains at a home burned in the Camp fire, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in Magalia, Calif. Many of the missing in the deadly Northern California wildfire are elderly residents in Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 north of the destroyed town of Paradise. (AP Photo/John Locher)
‘Forever War’ with fire has California battling forests instead

Five of the state’s largest-ever blazes seared California last year, as authorities tackle prevention

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto and IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, speak during a five=party online meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y in Tokyo Monday, June 21, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, Tokyo organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics to allow Japanese fans only, with strict limits

Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read