Consider who's promoting the harmonized sales tax

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Coal Association of Canada, the Council of Forest Industries, the New Car Dealers Association of British Columbia and the Railway Association of Canada. What do these organizations have in common? Well, for starters, each of them is a lobby group. That means they're responsible for promoting the best interest of their members. But there's one other thing they have in common.

Each of them - along with 38 other lobby groups - is a member of the Smart Tax Alliance.

That's the organization that's trying to convince you to vote in favour of the harmonized sales tax because they say it's in your best interest.

Now, I'd never claim to be an an expert on taxes. I'm not an economist. But I do have some expertise in dealing with sources, having been a journalist for the past eight years.

So if a source that gets paid to promote a private interest tells me something is in the public interest, I'd have to question that source's motivations.

And perhaps you should too, in the lead up to the referendum on the harmonized sales tax.

5 Comments

Interest groups that expect a net benefit from saving the HST are obviously going to try to convince the rest of us to side with them, and it doesn't mean that the public benefits they highlight are necessarily untrue. For example, the streamlining of admin for both govts and business increases productivity, the benfits of which can benefit many of us, both as consumers and as taxpayers.

The problem is these lobby groups - and others arrayed both for and against the HST - have no obligation to and are not telling the public the full story.

No public policy decision such as this one is ever clear-cut - there are costs and benefits, so the real question is how those net out, and that answer will differ for different people, or even for the different roles we assume as individuals.

For example, the HST has costs and benefits for my business interests, though the benefits probably win out.

But as a parent and advocate, I see a big downside now, whether we vote to keep or kill the HST, because of the changes that Premier Clark is now promising to woo voter support. Whaterver voters choose, it's now going to blow a huge hole in the provincial budget, which means one of three things: 1) chronic deficits (which we all agree are irresponsible); 2) raising other taxes or revenues (which is going to hurt someone); or 3) reduced government spending on core programs that are already severely strained (education, health, community living, etc). Any of these outcomes will have serious negative consequences for many or most British Columbians.

I can totally understand why lobby groups are trying to sell their prefered outcome, but it disturbs me greatly that no one is giving taxpayers a full and objective portrayal of all the implications of the choices before them.

As premier and finance minister, Christy Clark and Kevin Falcon have a responsibility to ensure that BC voters have all the information they need to make informed choices. So does Elections BC.

None of them are doing their jobs. And while it's not the media's job to do it for them, why aren't your colleagues with expertise in this field at least pointing that out?

They support the hated HST because the tax was shifted from them to us. Pretty simple actually. The old saw about how prices will go down as business finds it easier on their bookkeeper hasn't happened.

Well said Sean and... Dawn. These job creators have a right to speak out and the people demanding services need to pay up. That's just common sense.

Enough said. This isn't my fight per se.

Absolutely no surprise here. Another incentive for them is that they can see the handwriting on the wall. If Christy loses this attempt to "bribe" the voter with a promise and buy the referendum, what does that mean for her chances? They are worried that the gravy train will stop.

Hal, not the "gravy train" but the free market system. Adrian Dix is a left-wing socialst BCNDPer. Christy Clark is a right wing liberal. Big difference.

I hope the HST wins... just to make you BCNDP MAD!

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