B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, a former doctor, doffs his facemask in the medical fashion before a campaign announcement in Vancouver, Sept. 26. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, a former doctor, doffs his facemask in the medical fashion before a campaign announcement in Vancouver, Sept. 26. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

B.C. VOTES 2020: Echoes of HST in B.C. debate over sales tax

Cannabis, tobacco, luxury cars still taxed in B.C. Liberal plan

When former prime minister Stephen Harper campaigned in 2005 to cut the federal Goods and Services Tax from seven per cent to five, it was popular with voters but not with most economists.

In 2009, former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell emphasized the benefits of shifting from income to sales taxes with an effort to join Canada’s harmonized sales tax (HST). It extended sales tax to more services, while relieving the layers of sales tax from business investment. That backfired with a successful petition against the HST that forced B.C. to restore the seven-per-cent provincial sales tax (PST) and repay a $1.6 billion federal transition fund, pushing B.C. into deficit for 2012.

Now B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson is taking the Harper approach, but only temporarily to provide at least a two-year boost to consumer spending as the economy struggles through the COVID-19 pandemic. Wilkinson has proposed cutting the current provincial sales tax to zero for a year after the Oct. 24 election, and then bringing it back at only three per cent for the following year.

“Eliminating PST puts more money in people’s pockets, stimulates growth for struggling small business, and helps British Columbians who are struggling to get by,” Wilkinson said Sept. 28.

The party estimates the province would miss out on $6.88 billion in PST revenue in year one, and another $3.93 billion when the tax resumes at the three-per-cent rate. That would take the province’s deficit closer to $20 billion, with no end in sight to the pandemic’s economic slump and extra health spending demands.

RELATED: NDP’S ‘Neflix tax’ a surprise move for 2020 budget

RELATED: B.C. to add sales tax for sweetened soda drinks

The NDP government has done its own PST changes in its three years of minority government. It raised the PST to 20 per cent on vaping products last year, and in 2018 it hiked PST on high-end vehicles, from 10 per cent to 15 per cent on new or used vehicles costing $125,000 to $149,999. For vehicles costing $150,000 and up, the PST went to 20 per cent.

The B.C. Liberals say their temporary PST cuts would not apply to tobacco, vaping products or high-end vehicles. Cannabis would also continue to be subject to seven-per-cent PST, in addition to the province’s 15 per cent wholesale markup and federal GST on top of all that.

The party has not said whether its PST holiday would extend to gasoline and other fuels, already subject to federal and provincial fuel tax, carbon tax and federal and provincial sales taxes.

Before the sudden election call, former finance minister Carole James put off planned tax changes, including the end of a PST exemption for sweetened carbonated beverages. That is now to take effect April 2021, along with new PST registration and collection requirements for e-commerce businesses located outside B.C.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

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

Just Posted

The two suspects arrested south of 150 Mile House Tuesday, March 2, following a high-speed chase with the RCMP have been charged. (Will Roberts photo)
High-speed chase suspects charged, remain in custody after arrest south of Williams Lake

John Craig and Maggie M. Higgott appeared in Williams Lake Provincial Court March 4

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to Stoney and Minnie lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

Most Read