PST

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When Manitoba’s NDP government delivered its budget back in April, Finance Minister Stan Struthers ruffled some feathers with his announcement of an increase in the provincial sales tax (PST) to eight per cent from seven per cent, effective July 1, which happens to be Canada Day. His proposed tax hike has been hotly debated ever since.


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April 1st is an important day for British Columbians and we’re not referring to the Easter long weekend. On that day BC officially scraps the HST and in one fell swoop restores the old Provincial Sales Tax system.

But moving back to the PST will cause harm to the provincial economy and BC families will lose out on the increased prosperity and jobs that the HST would have encouraged. Since our province will be poorer with the PST, it falls on our political leaders to take action to lessen the impact.


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Last month, British Columbia’s Expert Panel on Business Taxation delivered its much anticipated final report (at least among us policy wonks). Unfortunately, the report garnered little media attention and failed to spark much debate about BC’s tax competitiveness.

The Expert Panel was appointed early this year by then-Finance Minister Kevin Falcon; it was made up of a cross-section of people from business, academia, and government to provide recommendations on how BC’s business taxes could be made more competitive given the return of the PST in 2013.


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When the PST rears its ugly head on April 1, 2013, British Columbia’s tax competitiveness will be dealt a major blow as the cost of the investing in the province increases dramatically. Unfortunately, the well-being of BC families will be negatively affected in many ways – none more important than the adverse impact the PST will have on investment in machinery, equipment, and technology – the backbone of a healthy economy.


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With the defeat of the harmonized sales tax (HST), B.C.’s competitiveness will suffer a crushing blow, as the province experiences a rebirth of the provincial sales tax (PST). The unfortunate reality is that restoring the PST will lead to a reduction in investment and job creation. It now falls on Premier Christy Clark and her colleagues to show leadership and put forth a tax plan to mitigate the unrealized economic gains that the HST would have encouraged.


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After two years of heated debate, many British Columbians are still confused about how to vote in the current mail-in referendum on the HST. The choice before them is to either keep the HST—which the government has promised to reduce to 10 per cent from 12 per cent—or restore the old PST/GST system at a total rate of 12 per cent.

To help British Columbians decide, we have calculated the impact of restoring the PST/GST on the tax bill of BC families (with two or more individuals) at various income levels using the Fraser Institute’s Canadian Tax Simulator.