Let me say of the top that I am not anti tax. I believe in a fair and equitable society for all as well as programs for people in need. This money does not come from nowhere, so we all have to pay tax. I get it. That said, to say I am not a fan of the HST tax that brought a services into the 12% tax bracket that previously had only the 5% GST is an understatement. This is not just a letter of complaint, but a great suggestion that I hope governments listen to. In fact, there is a message at the end of this post that I hope people anywhere that offers healthcare to its citizens listens to.
If you live in BC, I probably have the same beefs as you do about this tax. For starters, last year when the HST was introduced the government was trying to convince us that it was merely a ‘restructuring’ of the tax system and “revenue neutral” and now a lot of effort is being spent convincing us that we will have to give up many services without the HST tax. Being manipulated is no fun but ultimately, it’s not that which irks me.
I also probably feel like you do that the real estate market in Vancouver is making hundreds of thousands of Vancouverites cash strapped. It is the second most expensive city in the world when you look at the ratio of income to the cost of real estate. The HST tax adds another 7% tax to people who already stretched to buy some 600 square foot downtown condo. Sure, there is a small HST rebate for properties under $400,000, but realistically what can you buy for a family for under $400,000 in Vancouver? People may get the loans now for it with interest rates low, but when they go up, be ready for some big, big issues that I wish my government was sympathetic to. But it is not really for that reason that I dislike the HST and prefer the old GST without taxes on services.
The real reason is this; this extra tax is not just in proportion to where the tax dollars mostly end up, in our health care system.
In my yoga classes and workshops after the introduction of the HST, I had to raise the rates, which I had been trying to keep affordable for people for the last 11 years. I believe that a good government will incentivise things that keep people healthy like gym memberships, yoga classes, massage, etc. But adding 7% tax is going the other way.
What really bothers me about this: Most of our tax dollars in BC go towards health care. It doesn’t seem right that things that keep people out of the health care system have an extra tax applied to it.
“Ok, so where are we going to get the extra income from to pay off debts and to keep health care running,” asks the government officials? It’s a good question and my answer is if most of the tax income raised is going to health care, why not shift the tax burden to the things that contribute to people being unhealthy and ending up using the medical system in the first place… like fast food.
Think about it add a 15 cent tax to every Quarter Pounder, One third pounder, Whopper, Hot dog or McNuggets that was sold here in B.C. and it wouldn’t take long to raise some much needed revenue. This is not about GST + PST vs one HST tax. This is saying there is an option number three that may be outside the way we normally think about taxes, but makes a lot of sense.
Let’s get forward thinking. If you live in BC, vote YES to scrap the HST. Structure our taxes to keep healthy services as an incentive and unhealthy fast food as a disincentive for people.
Your new mantra for the month of June and July during the referendum is “Tax Hot Dogs, Not Down Dogs!” Let’s make our vote count!
Even if you don’t live in B.C. I think this movement needs to go global!