Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The HST vote is about your money - that's why government and big business misinformation so outrageous

BC Liberal government's "Stickmen" ads - $5 million of your taxpayer dollars at work to convince you the HST is good for you - even though they promised not to do it!
Remember - the HST is 12% - not 10% as BC government and Smart Tax Alliance TV ads wrongly claim
Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday June 14, 2011       

By Bill Tieleman

"This particular tax takes the tax off business, it takes $1.8 billion off businesses and puts it on consumers, and so that shift is a shift that is ideological as well as factual."

- Former BC Liberal finance minister Carole Taylor on the HST

This month's binding referendum vote on the Harmonized Sales Tax is about your money.

HST misinformation is being promoted with $5 million in B.C. government advertising and another big business campaign from the so-called Smart Tax Alliance with an undisclosed but likely even bigger budget.

Remember -- the HST is a 12 per cent tax on goods and services, not the 10 per cent their ads claim.

That means you are spending up to $1,200 a year in HST that you didn't spend when the Provincial Sales Tax and federal Goods and Services Tax were in effect.

Why? Because you weren't charged the seven per cent PST on hundreds of services and products -- like restaurant food, basic phone and cable TV, home repairs and renovations, domestic airline tickets, haircuts, vitamins, gym memberships, sports and concert events and much more -- a huge list.

Businesses which greatly benefit from the $2 billion tax shift onto consumers want you to believe the HST will eventually be 10 per cent -- but only if you vote NO to keep it.

Rubbish. The BC Liberal government is "promising" to reduce the HST to 10 per cent by 2014.

String of broken pledges

That's the government which promised before the 2009 election it wouldn't impose an HST; promised the HST would be "revenue neutral"; promised all the money would go to healthcare; promised a 15 per cent income tax cut to make up for the HST, promised 141,000 new jobs in 10 years and promised it wouldn't try to buy your vote with your money.

Every single one of those promises has been broken.

Now Premier Christy Clark "promises" an 11 per cent HST next year and a 10 per cent HST in three years -- but only after you vote. Is that believable?

And even if it was, would you really be better off still paying an extra five per cent tax on all the items above?

Right now the seven per cent HST will cost you an extra $140 on a $2,000 domestic flight and an extra $3,500 on a $50,000 home renovation or repair.

Would an extra five per cent tax on these costs be better than zero per cent?

Obviously not.

Yes means No

Giving people a vote to demand government listen is why I helped start Fight HST, which led the citizens initiative petition that forced a binding mail ballot referendum going into the mail this week and next, with a deadline to return it of July 22.

And remember that you have to vote Yes to extinguish the HST and vote No to keep the HST -- that's the way the referendum ballot has been worded by Elections BC.

Don't take advice from government "stick men" ads and big business, which have everything to gain from your loss -- do the math for yourself and your family.



Grant G said...

Bill Tieleman...You must read and quote Keith Baldrey..

In his latest column Keith Baldrey has stated that...

"Christy Clark`s HST fix is not DOABLE"

Baldrey states that reducing the HST to 10% in 2014 blows a $1 billion dollar yearly whole in the budget(and that is after taking into consideration the increase in corporate taxes and canceling the small business tax decrease)

Spread the word, Clark`s HST fix can`t be done without causing massive deficits.

Read the story here.

NeoDude said...


So here it is, 25 months since this whole nonsense started and guess what Bill. The HST . . . is STILL HERE! We signed petitions that were meaningless because they were only public opinion collections. The type that is often brought into the Legislature and ignored. The HST remained.

Then the three "wise " men came bearing a gift, an authentic petition gathering process that is legally recognized in BC. We know it as one half of the Recall and Initiative Act. Lo and behold, a "miracle" occurred. With 70-85% of the population opposed, a whopping 18.6% of eligible voters did their part in ridding us of a tax that very few wanted and nobody voted for. But the HST remained.

How could that be? I know people who were surprised to find out that it hadn't worked. Even the "wise" men were shocked to find the Liberals weren't "buckling under the pressure". Didn't they realize that Recall (the other half) would force them one riding at a time to hand over the reins of power to the NDP? But the HST remained, actually becoming more cemented after a couple of futile attempts.

All this despite the "wise" men touting how their strategy would work to get rid of the HST. It got rid of Gordon Campbell, I think that's fair to say. Of course Campbell wasn't what ailed our fair province, it was something far more hideous and loathed.

But at last the time is here when we will have our say. A fair vote - well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. After all this is the Liberals we're talking about but a vote nonetheless. A choice whether we want the HST or not, a choice that we were not offered at the last election because we would have said No. Still it was conceived, drafted, implemented and rammed down our throat, then maintained despite overwhelming opposition. All in the name of the democratic process that we embrace.

Anonymous said...

Some of the claims made by VanderZalm are outrageous too.

Will be glad when this nonsense is over and that we can get into enjoying a nice BC summer.

Anonymous said...

I'm concerned about possible skullduggery over at the Elections B.C. office and the possiblity of "padded in " mail-in votes from WHO KNOWS WHERE...(BUSINESS INTERESTS, MAYBE?)
So, Bill can we the public ever know and be assured that there are public and or MLA ie; (NDP) and FIGHT HST scrutineers to oversee the process of assessing the mail in votes so that B.C. citizens can be assured of a "clean" vote in terms of authenticity and number of ballots mailed out and in?

Anonymous said...

I'm concerned about possible skullduggery over at the Elections B.C. office and the possiblity of "padded in " mail-in votes from WHO KNOWS WHERE...(BUSINESS INTERESTS, MAYBE?)
So, Bill can we the public ever know and be assured that there are public and or MLA ie; (NDP) and FIGHT HST scrutineers to oversee the process of assessing the mail in votes so that B.C. citizens can be assured of a "clean" vote in terms of authenticity and number of ballots mailed out and in?

Good grief, its the same agency that sent out ballots on the First Nations referendum set by the past NDP government.

I am sure the FIGHTHST group will be able to have scrutineers available, if such scrutineers were allowed to be present during the last referendum.

How much of this wiggly waggly opinions must there be? Elections BC is NON PARTISAN. The NDP as a political party does not factor into the referendum as they are not a registered part of it.

Neither do the MLAs. If there are NDP MLAs allowed, then there must be Liberal MLAs allowed.

The total number of ballots mailed out is simply the total number of registered voters with address at the time of the mail out. As for ballots returned, that is dependent on the person whether they want to vote on it or not. There would not be a 100% return on mailed back ballots. Elections BC will also be receiving many "moved" marked envelops.

Geezus get a life, and let the process go through its paces.

This isn't Somalia or Yemen, folks.

DPL said...

All is not well in the MZ. Christy camp when a guy like Les Leyne( sp) Columnist of the T/C ( today )has her latest PR event a bid weird. I expect to see her running over burning fie to get what her handlers want.
WE want the tax gone, and should not be satisfied till it is gone. The latest fear tactic repeated on assorted talk shows talk about losing medical services if the 3 Billion hole in the budget isn't filled. Who made the 3 billion hole, if in fact it exists? Repeat a lie often enough and you get a job on the PAB team.If the two Bills and Delaney had just shrugged and said, well it must be OK, Gordo would still be sitting in the big office and laughing at the BC tax payer suckers.

Anonymous said...

Campbell, Hansen and Harper FORCED the HST onto the people. The BC people said no, we are already taxed to death.

Campbell wouldn't even allow a full debate in Legislature. Harper was desperate to have the HST, so they forced it through. Layton did say, the HST was Harper's baby.

Typical of the corrupt Liberals, they are switching the blame, for their own stupidity onto the citizens. Wah, Wah, Wah, there's a big hole in the budget, because, you you are trying to kill the HST.

None of the corrupt crap of the BC Liberals, Campbell, Hansen and Harper, is the fault of the BC people. They can duke it out amongst themselves.

This province is a stinking, cesspool of corruption, as is the entire country. There were even robot calls, to inform people, the voting venue's had been changed, before the Federal election.

NeoDude said...


Isn't it finally time to change all that? Let's be rid of this hideous loathsome beast. Obviously we will never be rid of the Liberals completely so don't bother trying (of course outvoting them is a worthwhile endeavour). I don't believe we will even get rid of the HST but that hardly matters. Like the former Premier, the HST isn't the problem. Just as Campbell was replaced by Christy Clark, the Liberals would simply replace the HST with some other money sucking mechanism.

In fact, they already have. A kinder, gentler version of the same idea. Take money from consumers and give it to businesses but at 10% instead of 12%. Oh, and trust us that we will do so in a couple of years as long as you vote for us and our lying ways today. Give me a break. Sadly, I think it will work.

Bill, I thought your logic circuits had blown a fuse when you first started spouting anti-HST rhetoric. I shook my head at all the wasted time being put into the petition signing effort, even laughed lightly at people because I could see they were being led down the garden path by a trio of false prophets. To see the rejoicing in winning merely another obstacle to attempt to overcome was almost as amusing as the inevitable failure to leap even one Recall hurdle.

I considered the petition question but did not sign, early on it was clearly not necessary anyway, being in a staunch NDP riding. I also didn't have the opportunity to vote in a Recall campaign. But now the referendum is here and I find myself faced with a decision : Do I or don't I like the HST? Ultimately is this good or bad for BC? Their are two versions of the truth when that question is answered and I lack the economic wisdom to tell the difference. In situations like this I need to rely on my gut instinct, who do I trust? If this was so good for BC, why were the Liberals so sneaky about bringing it in? I don't trust them. Unfortunately, I also don't trust any of the "wise" men, the Zalm, Delaney or you.

Anonymous said...

This province is a stinking, cesspool of corruption, as is the entire country. There were even robot calls, to inform people, the voting venue's had been changed, before the Federal election.

If you don't like it, move out.

NeoDude said...


With no clear method of deciding it may be prudent to abstain, even though direct democracy via a referendum such as this is my preferred way to cast a vote. However, I have no desire to waste that vote so I will get what I can out of it. I will try to make a deal with you, Bill. I know you would like to see as many people as possible voting "Yes" to extinguish the HST. I'm willing to do that for you. And all that I want in return is a sincere apology for the error in judgment that you made in advocating to keep that loathsome hideous beast we all know and love to hate - First Past The Post.

You know the animal. It keeps partners in crime (Liberal and NDP) virtually unaccountable except to their funding puppet-masters ad infinitum. It's exclusionary and repressive, rewards the greedy and punishes the honest. I look forward to viewing your NO-FPTP facebook page. Naturally as this is a far more imperative issue than the HST, I would view your decision to decline (or ignore) this offer as confirmation that you are much more dangerous than the HST and will therefore vote "No". In addition I will be encouraging several friends who would also otherwise not vote to do the same and have them notify you here once they agree.

As a bonus for accepting this generous offer, I will throw in the following promise at absolutely no charge. I will, as you have suggested on numerous occasions, "get over it" and "move on". You would no longer be reminded, at least not by me, of how ridiculous it is to defend a position which is the primary reason for all that you disapprove of in our political system. How could you reasonably say no to all this? Feel free to find guidance from others as to what qualifies as reason.

But I don't want to coerce you so I'll make you an additional offer. If the HST is defeated despite what small legion of uninterested followers I can enlist to vote for it, then I will apologize profusely and never doubt your political insightfulness again, although I reserve the right to politely disagree with you on matters outside of electoral reform. There shouldn't be too many, actually if it wasn't for this whole STV thing a couple of years ago I might mistake you for a decent guy. Well, that's it. My offer is on the table and I'll let you decide how badly you want my vote against HST. Remember you don't have to fall in love with STV or anything similar, just recognize that FPTP is atrocious.

Bill Tieleman said...

NeoDude - Christy Clark may try to buy votes but I don't. Your "offer" is both sad and transparent. No apologies from me for helping block the absurd STV nor for keeping the FPTP.

Figure out how to vote yourself - or either ask those who unlike you did sign the petition & volunteer or watch the big business & government ads and help them pull off a scam.

NeoDude said...

Thanks, Bill. That's 2 No votes already. I'll send a note to my former MLA, a shady character by the name of Dix, as well as another NDP impostor, my current MLA Shane Simpson. We need to work together to get rid of the Conservative/Liberal right. I'll let them know you're uninterested in seeing the NDP fill the void on the left. Hopefully we won't need to leave the Liberals in power too long while the NDP figures out they can't survive on the wrong side of the spectrum once a real alternative appears. And as long as the NDP stays where it is, that alternative is inevitable. It might not be pretty or even in the near future but it will happen, just as the CCF rose from nothing before morphing into the unprincipled NDP. More shameful than Vancouver "hockey fans".

Dave Worden said...

Hi Bill:
I'm a bit confused...
Originally it was stated the 12% HST would cost the average BC resident an extra $320 on average.
Now, the governments NEW ads are stating the reduction to 10% will save the average resident $120.
Is this a savings over switching back to the pst/gst, or simply a savings of $120 on the original $320, making it an average increase of $200?
If this is the case, the government ads are completely misleading the public into thinking they are SAVING money by keeping the HST instead of reinstating the PST/GST.
I hope it's something you can address for the public if it is indeed the case.
Thanks for your time!!!
Dave Worden
Burnaby, B.C.

Anonymous said...

Dear Bill:
Since you've written this article, the reduction to an HST rate of 10% has been signed into law, providing of course HST is kept. Therefore, your mistrust of the Liberal government (which is quite fair) can be ignored. Despite the best intentions of the NDP, I refuse to treat HST as a political issue, and instead I focus on the benefits it has to the economy as a whole.

You state that the HSTinBC campaign is ‘misinformation’. Starting off your blog with a fallacy is not a great way to win the opinion of your readers. The $5 million is needed to inform the general public, who (if you are any example) seem to have a deep seated mistrust of governments in general, and especially the Liberals. (I should state here that I have voted NDP in every election in the past, although I think Adrian Dix’s anti-HST campaign will change my mind).

The information listed on the HSTinBC website is taken from independent third party non-partisan economists (including a panel chaired by the former Minister of Finance of Alberta). I’m not sure how their estimates for the effects of HST constitute misinformation; perhaps you mistrust anyone who has ever been associated with government?

Regardless, please stop using the phrase “tax shift onto consumers”; as it indicates your understanding of basic economics is lacking. Businesses under the pre-HST system did not get ITC’s on PST, as I’m sure you are aware. Instead, they absorbed these costs into the price of their goods. Consumers then essentially paid PST twice; first hidden in the price of the good, and then again at the point of purchase. So this isn’t a tax shift, it’s just moving from invisible to visible (you can consult any economist as to the nature of these two types of taxes and see which they prefer).

Anytime you tax business more, it will eventually be paid by the consumer. So why wouldn’t you want to create a competitive corporate environment for big business, and keep the jobs within BC? In addition, why wouldn’t you want to save small business the hassle of filing under two separate sales tax systems? As an articling Chartered Accountant, I work on many small businesses who have greatly benefitted from the new, simpler tax system.

Small businesses employed 1,045,400 people in 2009 ( Are you saying that these people won’t benefit from this simpler tax system? Saying that big business is the only beneficiary of the HST system is incredibly short sighted, as a stronger BC economy will benefit all British Columbians. A stronger economy ($2.5 billion in increased economic activity by 2020 directly associated with HST) will result in more taxes being collected by the government, which will help balance our budget.

Regardless of who created the current budget deficit (as the mortgage crisis in the US was a significant contributor to the declining economy in BC), the fact is that it is here, and without a new source of revenue for the BC government (tax), they will have to cut spending to balance the budget. I would rather they collect more tax in the form of sales tax, which I can directly control how much I pay, than increasing income tax, which I cannot control.

I’ve posted a note which will explain in more detail as to the real benefits of HST; please feel free to read.!/notes/noel-palmer/detailed-info-on-hst-please-read-before-you-vote/10150234235869270

Noel Palmer

Bill Tieleman said...

To Noel Palmer: There is much in your comment that is wrong but it's late - let me just start with this retort to your claim that the HST isn't a tax shift:

"Consumers will pay more — there's no getting around it," said Stephen Spector, president of the Certified General Accountants Association of B.C. "The truth is it is a shift in taxation."

September 1, 2009 - The Province newspaper

And that group supports the HST!

I can also quote chapter and verse from ex-Finance Minister Colin Hansen that the HST would be "revenue neutral" but you say it is a "new source" of revenue.

All of which begs the obvious question to you - why if the HST is such a great benefit did the government introduce it after denying any intention to do so before the 2009 election?

The answer is obvious.

Anonymous said...


First of all, as I mentioned, I refuse to make this a political debate. I don’t agree with the way HST was brought in either, but it’s here, and I’ve seen how much this system benefits the economy as a whole, even if the individual ends up paying more visible tax on their purchases. Instead of turning this into a childish finger-pointing match at every member of government, I’m only evaluating HST based on the merits it has for the people of BC and its economy.

As for Mr. Spector’s comments (which are really outdated at this point, as much of the HST info has changed since September of 2009), it depends what your definition of shift is. In moving from an invisible tax like PST to a visible one like HST, it certainly seems to the average consumer that they are paying more, as the tax on their receipts are higher if PST wasn’t charged on those items prior to HST.

However, a neutral economist (SFU professor John Kesselman) has crunched the numbers, and has found that the actual impact to consumers is 0.6% of their total spending. So the average individual is paying an extra $1 for every $165 they spend. Not really the 7% increase in taxes that the anti-HST side is promoting in order to gain public support.

Here’s a link to a page with links to his findings:

Part of the reason the impact is so small is that despite former premier Van der Zalm’s claims, businesses actually have been lowering their prices to pass on their savings under the new system. As I mentioned in my original post, PST was embedded in the price of items already. For example, take a manufacturing company. They built the PST they paid on their inputs (raw materials) and then sold them to another company. They charged PST on the goods, and the new company added the PST they paid onto the price of their inputs. They made a finished product, and charged PST to a distributor, who built that PST into the price of their ready-to-sell item. The consumer then paid PST yet again on the item, so PST was paid 4 times in total.

Now that the consumer is able to see exactly how much PST is charged on his item (7% of the 12% HST), and the businesses all down the line got their HST back as input tax credits, the sales price the consumer paid did not include ANY PST. This is where the sales prices are able to go down. Please read John Kesselman’s findings, and you can see that he adjusted for several variables, including CPI and price increases in nearby provinces.

So when I take issue with using the word shift, it is because your use makes it sound like the people are paying directly out of their pockets, when in actual fact, this is completely incorrect. In order to fully realize a $2 billion tax shift, as you say, every single consumer of BC would have to spend over $71,700 in a year, since Kessleman's true impact showed only 0.6% of extra tax paid for the consumer. $2billion/0.6%=$330 billion in spending, and divide that by the population of BC (4.6 million) = $71,700.
Did you spend $71,700 on goods this year? I definitely didn't.

Again, please read my note. It explains why HST is preferable to increasing income taxes or cutting spending on programs in order to balance the budget.

Noel Palmer

Anonymous said...

As a quick side note, here is your man Stephen Spector explaining the benefits of HST, and confirming what I said in my last post.
I believe your original quote was taken out of context. John Kesselman addresses this issue directly in his study; you can see this in the section marked '"Tax Grab" and Revenue Neutrality.'

Noel Palmer