Tax shift

The harmonized sales tax means British Columbians will be paying seven percent more for many goods that were exempt from the provincial sales tax it's replacing. And some worry that could drive those living near Alberta to do more cross-border shopping. "Every time there's some change in the taxation and a more visible tax on the B.C. side compared to the Alberta side, it adds reasons for people to make that trip," said former Dawson Creek councillor Avlin Stedel on Public Eye Radio, referring to the eastern province's sales tax free status. "We even lose people that go to Alberta to buy their gasoline because it's so close and they don't have any carbon tax there."

Former Radium Hot Spring mayor Greg Deck said many local merchants haven't yet "done their homework on this one yet to know exactly what the impacts are going to be. We'll probably be a little bit lazy and find out after our first year that, wow, this was more - or less substantial - but probably more than we expected."

But don't expect the Campbell administration to help border businesses by reducing the sales tax in eastern British Columbia. From 2003 to 2006, the two ex-politicians led an unsuccessful campaign to convince government to do just that.

And, so far, Mr. Deck said, he hasn't "heard the same kind of groundswell of interest in this that was there when Alvin and I were working on it" - in part because many merchants have quit trying to compete with Alberta. "That critical mass of commercial operators who would be pushing on this has just kind of withered up and gone."

"Someone may bring it up again down the road," allowed Mr. Stedel. "But it'll be a few more years. Who knows, though. You get people and you get a little publicity and people start thinking about it it could come back again."

1 Comment

The Liberals are quickly learning that this new tax scheme is a hard sell. Although this new tax structure will save exporters and manufacturers a buck or two the trickle down will be more a slow drip. If the Liberals came out and said that the new tax would go towards improving health care and education perhaps there would be somewhat less of an outcry. It doesn't help matters much when they said they wouldn't do it during the election and then changed their minds shortly after.

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