10% HST cheaper than PST, study finds

A 10 per cent harmonized sales tax will cost an average B.C. family $255 a year less than returning to the former provincial sales tax, according to a new study.

Fight HST organizers Bill Vander Zalm and Bill Tieleman visit Elections BC office in Victoria Wednesday. They want the B.C. government to allow people to vote late if they didn't receive their HST referendum packages in time.

VICTORIA – A 10 per cent harmonized sales tax will cost an average B.C. family $255 a year less than returning to the former provincial sales tax, according to a new study.

David Murrell, professor of public finance at the University of New Brunswick, released the first version of his study last year, examining the switch to the HST in B.C. and Ontario. He calculated a 12 per cent HST would cost an average B.C. family an extra $490 in new sales taxes paid. Factoring in low-income tax credits and grants, the B.C. HST would mean an net $320 tax increase.

After the B.C. government announced it would reduce the HST rate to 11 per cent next year and 10 per cent in 2014, Murrell updated his calculations and released the results this week.

“If I were a B.C. voter, based on this evidence, I would vote ‘no’ in the HST referendum,” Murrell said.

Murrell did a similar study in 1997 when Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland expanded their provincial sales tax to include services, and cut the rate to eight per cent. He also found a net saving to taxpayers in those provinces.

B.C. consumer savings come from three sources, Murrell said. Goods that were subject to PST will now have it reduced to five per cent. The government has offered personal income tax credits to help compensate for the new HST. And businesses pass on savings from writing off taxes on material inputs and capital spending, lowering the price of products and services.

Jock Finlayson, vice-president of the Business Council of B.C., said Murrell’s study is the first independent academic analysis he has seen since the HST rate cut option was announced in May.

Finlayson said he has heard many times that people don’t believe prices will be reduced as a result of HST tax breaks. But independent researchers have looked at the switch from retail sales taxes to value-added taxes around the world, and “without exception” they find that lower prices result, he said.

With the Aug. 5 deadline for voting in B.C.’s HST referendum approaching, Fight HST organizers Bill Vander Zalm and Bill Tieleman visited Elections BC facilities where they will observe as ballots are counted.

They told reporters they have heard from hundreds of people concerned they won’t receive a voting package in time to participate, and called for the government to intervene and establish a mechanism to allow late voting.

“If [voters] called Elections BC and they were sent a package, it should get to them and they should be allowed to vote,” Tieleman said.

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon, reached at a cabinet retreat in the Okanagan, said it is “ridiculous” to suggest that the government try to interfere with an independent office that has successfully supervised many elections and referendum votes.

Just Posted

School District No. 74 anti-racism posters spark controversy

A poster challenging white privilege has drawn the most attention, pro and con.

Parents’ reactions to School District No. 74 anti-racism posters

‘Until I educate myself I am on the fence’ is one response.

TNRD grant for Ashcroft HUB means substantial energy savings

New doors, windows, and lighting will make the HUB building viable for years to come.

Community Connect Expo to help with fire stress and trauma recovery

Full day event will feature a variety of workshops, organizations, and more to provide information.

Health Care Auxiliary lends a helping hand to Better at Home

Donation will help provide services to area seniors so they can stay in their homes and communities.

VIDEO: Climber ‘catches the sunrise’ over city atop B.C. crane

Police warn ‘rooftopping’ poses risk to climber, public and first responders

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

BCHL Today: Wenatchee Wild goaltenders a cause for concern

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Canadian survivors, supporters rally against proposed ’60s Scoop settlement

Some have accused the government of underestimating the number of survivors

Nordic athlete Arendz to be Canada’s flagbearer at Paralympic closing ceremony

The biathlete and cross-country skier from Hartsville has raced to five medals in Pyeongchang

B.C. community cheers on Natalie Wilkie as she wins first gold medal

Local skier tops the podium in 7.5km race at the PyeongChang Paralympics

Experts: Society has a role in trying to prevent domestic violence

Experts are speaking out following the murder of a woman and her son in Ontario

Progress on fixing Phoenix pay system backlog could be short-lived: Ottawa

Feds have said they won’t try to recover money overpaid until all outstanding issues are fixed

Northern lights chasers in Canada discover new type named ‘Steve’

Phenomenon linked to a powerful current created by charged particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere

Most Read