It’s somehow fitting that the conversion back from the HST to the PST/GST occurred on April 1.
The way the tax was handled from the outset was a joke – albeit an expensive one.
Taxation is never popular. So if a government is serious about introducing a new one, it better do it right.
The BC Liberals learned that lesson. And they’ll likely be punished at the polls again for utterly mishandling this, the most fundamental responsiblity of government.
What hasn’t changed, however, is our need to reform the PST.
That was, after all, the original objective behind harmonizing the federal and provincial taxes.
Voters could be excused for forgetting that fact, primarily because it was never discussed with them before the HST’s introduction.
Instead, the public learned – without consultation – the new tax was a done deal.
The HST held benefits, politicians insisted. It would remove hidden taxes that consumers didn’t see but ultimately paid for – taxes that added to the cost of business and stifled economic growth.
Yes, there were new taxes, but eventually market forces would even out, prices would fall and prosperity would reign.
Unfortunately, the very people who were counting on the public’s trust had betrayed that trust by introducing a new tax without consulting those who were being asked to pay it.
Rather than a more efficient tax, what people saw were taxes on new items that weren’t previously taxed.
Anger forced its ultimate repeal.
But that victory doesn’t change the fact that British Columbia still has a tax that economists agree is flawed, expensive and inefficient.
True, on April 1 we ditched a tax that was introduced through arrogance and incompetence.
But maybe the joke’s on us.