Why I am voting in favour of the HST

HST letter to the editor

When it comes to understanding the HST, British Columbians trust the accounting profession to tell the story. Yet the numbers and economic terms can be confusing, even intimidating.

Rather than repeat a lot of the research, I would like to give you one view of the HST from the tax trenches. I am the chair of the Certified General Accountants Association of British Columbia. I am also one of the senior shareholders of a medium-sized public accounting firm in Richmond.

I do tax work every day for individuals in all income ranges. I also advise small- and medium-sized and larger businesses ranging from wineries to manufacturing operations.

First off, I am not a big fan of more tax. But I do know that government needs funds to sustain our educational, health care and other important services, especially since our population is getting older and demand for many of these services is only going to grow. Government also needs to raise revenue in a way that is fair, transparent and helps build a more competitive economy to sustain those services.

I am a fan of a simpler tax and the HST is certainly that. Under the old Provincial Sales Tax, things were a lot more complicated. It was not evenly or fairly applied to goods and services. It wasn’t even logical. Consider that PST was payable on unicycles but not on bicycles, on car battery recharging but not on car battery boosting, and on flower bulbs but not onion bulbs. It was extremely confusing, even for tax professionals.

Worse, the PST was applied to goods that businesses built or made, which meant that an additional 7 per cent was added to the price even though the product may have been “tax-free” at the final point of sale. Of course, it wasn’t, it was just “tax hidden.”

CGA-BC argues that the HST is a fairer tax system. It follows a global standard — now used by more than 140 countries — to foster investment, growth, exports and jobs.

Returning to the old PST-GST would have some serious economic repercussions. The burden of taxation would be placed on manufacturers and exporters, while exempting much of the growing service economy.

If B.C. returns to the old sales taxes we will likely have to repay Ottawa the $1.6 billion we received to make the transition to the HST, and restore the old tax collection system which cost $35 million a year.

Consumers would be faced with making up the tax losses and/or making do with reduced government services as well as continuing to pay 12 per cent in sales taxes. They would also face higher prices because most businesses would no longer receive a full rebate on sales tax paid on items they buy to make a product or service, as they do under the HST. Those cascading extra costs would again be embedded in final prices and be passed along to consumers.

Many of those that are not in favour of the HST say it is unfair because it transfers the tax burden from business to the consumer. In my view, the consumer either pays the tax directly via a value added tax like the HST or indirectly through a tax embedded in the cost of the product. Either way the consumer pays the tax. I would prefer the tax I pay to be transparent.  Then again, I would also prefer to pay 10 per cent rather than 12 per cent.

And that is why I am going to support the HST by voting No in the referendum. I urge you to support the HST by voting No too.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Masks are now officially mandatory in all City of Campbell River facilities. (Black Press File Photo)
Interior Health reports 49 new COVID-19 cases overnight

302 cases remain active; two in hospital

It’s crucial to follow provincial health guideliens to stop further spread of the virus, according to the Physicans of Golden. (File photo)
Positive COVID cases confirmed in Golden

The exposure occured at the Golden arena through one of the hockey cohorts.

After nearly 20 years, the Golden and Area A Community Forestry Team is trying to bring a community forest to the Golden area. (File photo)
Bringing a community forest to Golden

There’s been a desire to bring a community forest to the area for over a decade

Concerns over the water in Nicholson have been raised since 2005. Residents continue to reject solutions from the CSRD. (Cranbrook Townsman file)
Nicholson residents reject community water system

The results of the one-year water monitoring program have been released.

Morning Start: Humans might be able to hibernate like bears

Your morning start for Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

O’Rourkes Peak Cellars is located in Lake Country, B.C. (Contributed)
Lake Country winery temporarily closes due to possible COVID-19 exposure

The establishment plans to reopen on Dec. 4 after a deep clean

(Ty Hainsworth / Facebook)
Highway 97 now clear following structure fire near Oliver

A fruit stand caught fire Tuesday afternoon

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

There are numerous ways the municipality can use the money, granted by the province. Black Press file photo.
Town of Princeton gets $1 million in COVID relief

Funds to offset affects of pandemic on municipal revenues and operations

All dance studios, other indoor group fitness facilities must close amid updated COVID-19 rules

Prior announcement had said everything except spin, HIIT and hot yoga could remain open

Representatives of Vernon Rotary Clubs, starting left: Angela Yablonski (Vernon Rotary), Dustin Stadnyk (Kalamalka Rotary), and Michael Wardlow (Silver Star Rotary) present the proceeds from fall fundraising to Anna Dawyd and Laurie Postill (Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail) to help create the Northern Gateway to Okanagan Rail Trail. (Contributed)
Rail Trail boosted by North Okanagan Rotary Clubs

More than $7,400 raised to develop gateway at Kilometre Zero

A colourful inflatable igloo is a new addition to Vernon Winter Carnival 2021, if the multi-day event can proceed amid health regulations. (Vernon Winter Carnival photo)
Vernon Winter Carnival still hoping to light up 2021 amid COVID-19

Event gets support from city in attempts to continue while navigating health regulations

Most Read