If anyone think the war over the HST is over … you are wrong, wrong, wrong.
The government, big business and the very wealthy (look at the ridings that voted highest in favour of the tax!) will not end their ten-year campaign to shift more and more of the tax burden away from them and onto the shoulders of the middle class.
They … and their media propaganda mouthpieces … will now begin a major campaign to make everyone who voted “Yes” to extinguish the HST THINK they’ve made a huge mistake.
Here’s how it will go down. (In fact, it has already started.)
First, there’s the cost of going back. I’ve already heard $3 Billion … and I’m sure we’ll soon be hearing $4 Billion … all dished out without any specifics and no mention of offsets in additional PST revenues by INCREASED consumer spending once people have more money back in their own pockets, and not Ottawa’s.
And speaking of Ottawa, secondly, there’s that little bit about paying back the $1.6 Billion the feds gave BC to transition to the HST. (You’re going to hear a LOT about that from the media messengers.) But wait! What about the hundreds of millions dollars in EXTRA revenues Ottawa will have pulled in from BC before the HST tax … which extended federal tax gains on a whole myriad of services and products that were not covered by the GST before … is ended?
British Columbia should have a HUGE PLUS in its “credit” balance with Ottawa, reflecting all the extra loot the feds have raked in… and will continue to rake in for another year or more.
However, it looks like the BC government will be amateurs at negotiating down that $1.6 Billion on that basis alone, not to mention other arguments and statistics I’m sure any competent accountants could come up with quite easily. Maybe we should hire or borrow a couple of tax/accounting experts from the Quebec government: they’d not only get Ottawa to let us keep the $1.6 B, but maybe even turn over another $100 million or $200 million to us in an overall compensation agreement to cover all kinds of other grievances as well!
And third … this one should be quite comical to watch it unfold … the government and their media mouthpieces are about to launch a campaign to justify a whole series of punishments on the public: cutting services; laying off people; playing hardball with the teachers’ negotiations; punishing hospitals; raising fees wherever they can; and, of course, adding on a little more on to the cost of gas, alcohol or tobacco.
Mind you, they will only TALK about most of that right now, with a provincial election getting closer and closer every day … carrying out only a few “hits” against their favorite targets to make it look like they have no other choice. And just before the election, they’ll announce that because of their fantastic ability to govern, many of those other “unavoidable” consequences of rejecting the HST can indeed be avoided.
And you’ll also hear a lot about the “HUGE” loss of revenues without the HST: money to build new hospitals; repair schools; finance health care; services for the elderly; cover public wage increases; build transit infrastructure (that Evergreen line again???) ; and. pay for environmental programs.
This is either a joke … or the government and the media were lying through their teeth when they PROMISED us the HST was revenue neutral OR, even when it wasn’t, would only cost each of us very, very little.
They can’t have it both ways: the HST either produced relatively little extra revenue, in terms of the overall provincial budget, or it WAS INDEED a total major ripoff of the middle class!
But there’s one thing the government,big business and their media mouthpieces will conveniently FAIL to mention in the coming days, weeks, months: how about raising taxes on the biggest, most profitable corporations (after they’ve hidden or written off as much as they can) and the wealthiest, highest income earners (and their five or six-figure bonuses) to help cover the loss of revenues from the ending of the HST.
Why must it always be the middle class who pay the price?
What this province really needs in the post-HST era is a full TAXATION AUDIT by a specially appointed independent research/study group of financial auditors, accountants and economists (NO politicians) so the people of BC are informed about:
HOW is BC provincial tax burden actually divided in terms of taxation load on individuals and businesses?
WHAT’s the comparison between those figures and the taxation loads in other provinces?
HOW do other provinces, without the HST, pay to support their public services?
Compare the tax write-offs, subsidies and other financial incentives given business in this province with the others.
That’s pretty good for a start: I’m sure the audit experts could come up with more. But again, NO politicians on the study board: we need facts, not spin.
Then BC can come up with a fair, equitable taxation system where every segment pays a fair share of the cost of financing the services we all demand.
Of course, this will never happen … because I suspect the government and big business don’t want us to know how much more than our fair share of the burden working families in BC are actually paying.
But it would be nice if someone would just ask … and watch the Premier and Finance Minister squirm about why it can’t be done.