EDITORIAL: Understanding the HST

Finally, some reasonable and constructive discourse on the Harmonized Sales Tax.

The fact that some 24,000 Fraser Valley people took the time to listen and ask questions last week during the government’s town hall phone conference on the HST, is extremely encouraging.

Since the HST was introduced by the Liberal government last year, the leading elements in public discussion were anger, and a great deal of ignorance.

It’s understandable that voters felt betrayed. The Liberals did a remarkably poor job of communicating the looming tax reform prior to the last election.

And it was looming. With Atlantic Canada moving to the HST, followed by Ontario, it would eventually be a matter of when B.C. adopted the new tax structure, rather than if.

It’s unfortunate in the extreme that the policy was rolled out the way it was, since there is much about the HST that makes good economic sense.

It eliminates hidden PST, which is often multi-layered on goods and services. It streamlines business accounting, and it encourages corporate investment.

As much as some people chafe at the concept, a strong economy and flourishing businesses translate into jobs and prosperity.

As for the additional costs of some goods and services, estimated to average about $350 for a typical family, it should be remembered that personal income taxes have been lowered in B.C. by about 35 per cent since 2001.

That has had a substantial, ongoing beneficial impact for taxpayers.

It’s time for people to move past the political and emotional rhetoric, and on to understanding the long-term implications of this tax reform as it applies to the provincial economy.

Residents will vote on the HST in June.

It’s imperative that the process be an informed one.

 

The Abbotsford News (Black Press)