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

Influx of funding means new projects, upgrades coming to Bella Coola and Central Coast

The Central Coast Regional District confirmed it will be receiving just over $6 million in funding

Three percent accommodation tax approved for Bella Coola accommodation providers

Only fixed-room accommodation providers with four rooms or more are required to charge the tax.

U.S. consulate general to visit Northwest

Trip part of the region’s first-ever pop-up consul for American residents

B.C.’s north heats up to record highs

Bella Bella, Masset, Prince Rupert and the Cassiar Area all broke records

Sealed DNA in Phillip Tallio murder case must be released, orders Judge

A unanimous decision by B.C. Court of Appeal judges has ordered the release of a sealed DNA sample

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

Heavy ice off Canada coast strands pod of dolphins, fixating small town

The small Newfoundland community, Heart’s Delight, is fixated on plight of trapped dolphins

Foreign election interference a reality, says Trudeau after Putin re-election

Trudeau said the heavy use of social media and interference by foreign actors are the new reality in elections.

Canadians joining #DeleteFacebook amid fears of electoral meddling

Privacy experts say numerous Canadians are taking to other social media platforms to join in on the #DeleteFacebook hashtag

Schools close as spring snow storm tracks toward Maritime provinces

Schools are closing across the Maritime provinces as a spring snow storm tracks towards the region.

Son of late Canadian professor fights for mother’s release from Iran

Mehran Seyed-Emami’s father, an Iranian-Canadian professor, died in an Iranian jail after being accused of spying.

Deadly crash raises questions about Uber self-driving system

The fatality prompted Uber to suspend all road-testing of such autos in the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto

Better pre-hospital care in rural B.C. could save lives AND money

The yearly cost of injury exceeds $2.8 billion according to Provincial Health Services Authority.

B.C. Scientists witness first-ever documented killer whale infanticide

“It’s horrifying and fascinating at the same time.”

Most Read