HST costs average family $350 a year

Former Alberta treasurer Jim Dinning chaired B.C.'s independent panel on the impact of the harmonized sales tax.

VICTORIA – The independent panel reviewing the impact of B.C.’s harmonized sales tax has concluded that it increases prices for 17 per cent of an average family’s purchases, totalling $350 a year.

The panel was appointed by the B.C. government as part of preparations for a mail-in referendum on the HST that begins in mid-June. The panel released its report Wednesday, after a delay to avoid release during the federal election.

It finds that the B.C. government is getting more revenue than it expected in the first year of the HST. The finance ministry’s initial projections were that rebates for low-income families, home energy use and other exemptions would make the tax revenue neutral in the early years.

The report concludes that going back to the former provincial sales tax would cost the province $531 million in net tax revenues in the first year, with the amount increasing in subsequent years. That is in addition to the repayment of a $1.6 billion transition fund paid in instalments by the federal government to B.C.

One reason for the higher revenues that the HST hasn’t deterred spending as expected.

The report notes that while restaurants reported a drop in sales when the HST increased taxes by seven per cent in July 2010, that is not borne out by Statistics Canada measurement. It found that between June 2010 and January 2011, restaurant industry sales increased three per cent in B.C., the same as the national increase over that time.

The report also undercuts the government’s estimate of jobs created due to new business investment. It calculates that The HST will generate 24,400 “better paying” jobs by the end of the decade. The B.C. government has been citing a study by University of Calgary economist Jack Mintz that projected 113,000 new jobs.

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon shrugged off the lower estimate of jobs, saying the public is skeptical about any forecasts of future job growth.

“I think what this report tells us is that it may be a low of 24,000 jobs, or it could be as high as 113,000 jobs, but there will be lots of new jobs created,” Falcon said.

The panel’s report is available at the provincial government’s dedicated website, http://www.hstinbc.ca/

The website also has a new survey form where people can make recommendations on possible changes to the HST. Premier Christy Clark confirmed Wednesday that the government will offer proposed changes to the HST before people vote in the referendum.

Just Posted

Collection of obsolete pesticides, livestock medication Oct. 15 in Vanderhoof

Clean Farms program offers safe way to dispose of obsolete items

Vanderhoof commemorates Orange Shirt Day with beading workshop

Participants can learn a traditional Métis craft at CNC Sept. 26

College of New Caledonia offers new automotive glass technician program

The program is offered mainly online, allowing more students to take part from across the north

Local business wins snow removal award

K. Leigh Precision Earthworks picked up Rookie of the Year from Western Canadian company

Todd Doherty was recognized today for his life-saving actions during a flight home

Todd Doherty, Member of Parliament for Cariboo-Prince George, was recognized today for… Continue reading

VIDEO: Rare close encounter with whale pod spotted off B.C. waters

Pod of southern resident orca whales breach within arms length of whale watchers

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

B.C. woman donates $250,000 to ovarian cancer research for friends

Two of Patty Pitts’s friends passed away from the disease within a year

B.C. could provide clues as to how New Brunswick electoral results shake out

Premier Christy Clark faced a strikingly similar scenario following the province’s 2017 election

Most Read