OUR VIEW: The return of a tax

We say: How fitting the HST disappears on April Fool’s Day

It was perhaps fitting that B.C. returned to the Provincial Sales Tax on April Fool’s Day.

The rollout of the Harmonized Sales Tax by then-Premier Gordon Campbell was a colossal bungle during his time in office. The HST was praised by economists as sensible tax policy, and approved by many in the business community as easier to administer. But too many people felt betrayed by the way the tax was introduced, particularly due to the fact it came on the heels of an election where no mention of the HST was made.

And after the damage had been done, and after people learned that, in general, most folks would pay more under the new regime, no attempts at explanation could turn the tide of opposition.

In the summer of 2011, residents had their say in a province-wide referendum, rejecting the HST in favour of a return to the PST. So here we are, again. Back in a world with two taxes, the GST with a few exemptions, and the PST with quite a few. There’s a great explainer on the provinces website to untangle it all—just visit http://gov.bc.ca/pst and click “What’s taxable, what’s not.”

Suffice to say, for many things the average British Columbian will save money with the return to the PST. On things like home repairs and renovations, child safety equipment, smoke detectors, bikes, movie tickets, golf memberships, haircuts, basic cable, gym memberships and buying a new house, the return of the PST is good news and will mean significant savings. The unfortunate impact, however, is the loss of the provincial rebate of up to $230 a year for low-income individuals, which now drops to $75. As usual, the most vulnerable feel the shift most keenly. Meantime, the rest of us will adjust, as we always do.

– Black Press

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