Poll

HST maybe not such a bad thing?

Rob Leggett
By Rob Leggett
October 14th, 2009

Kyra (the editor) has been hinting for awhile now that she would like to take on the topic of the HST, but in all honesty I have been putting it off because I felt uninformed and hadn’t really decided how I felt about it.

That was until recently, when I noticed ex-Premier Bill Vander Zalm was spearheading an anti-HST campaign. I won’t ever base my political opinion on a single person or political party, however when it comes to Mr. Vander Zalm…

Well let’s just say that if we were lost in the woods and he said we needed to go one way to get home, I would opt to go in the completely opposite direction, even if he had a compass.
I find it difficult to agree with the opinion of a man that I feel is the Canadian mental equivalent of George Bush Jr. and I believe that Mr. Vander Zalm summed it up perfectly when he said of himself, “I may be dumb, but I am not stupid”.

Putting aside my distaste for both Mr. Vander Zalm and Premier Gordon Campbell, I was ready to do an un-biased research on the HST.

Initially, I was surprised to find that there were so few anti-HST websites and the majority that I did find were clearly sponsored by the NDP or their supporters. I was also surprised by the diverse associations that have decided to speak out in favour of the HST, including The Business Council of B.C., B.C. Chamber of Commerce, B.C. Trucking Association, Council of Forest Industries and the Motion Picture Industry Association of B.C., just to name a few.

I do not wish to say that I am in agreement with a government that hides its true intentions from the electorate, but I must admit that the HST appears to be a good idea.

First of all, businesses will be able to reduce their prices by the amount of tax that would have been covered in the price by getting a tax credit for the tax they pay on inputs. Also, the B.C. government estimates it will save $30 million a year by streamlining the administration of the tax.

Secondly, the HST will not be applied to items like basic groceries, residential rent, books, children’s clothing and footwear, gas or diesel, and feminine hygiene products. In fact, only a few items currently PST-free will have the HST applied to them and all items currently GST-free will remain HST-free.

A provincially-administered point-of-sale rebate for residential energy will ensure the HST does not increase consumers cost for oil electricity, natural gas or propane used to heat their homes. And those buying a new home can receive a rebate up to $20,000 on their purchase, while the sale of a used home will not be subject to the HST.

And lastly, the B.C. government is proposing to provide a HST credit that would be provided with the GST credit payments.

This would mean that an individual receiving the maximum $230 payment would have to spend $3,285 per year on previously exempted items. This appears to be a reasonable amount and, if the prices on goods and services previously taxed do go down, as has been shown to happen in other provinces that adopted a HST, then the benefits will be even greater for low income individuals and families.

I won’t say I agree with the way Liberals acted on the HST, nor can I say that like any tax, but I will say that the HST is an improvement over the current form of taxation in B.C. And I hate to admit that I agree with Gordon Campbell, but at least I can be satisfied in knowing that when I look behind me I will see Mr. Vander Zalm leading others in the opposite direction.
With his broken compass and all.

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Categories: Op/Ed

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