Thursday, August 11, 2011

Half of 3 million HST ballots returned

VICTORIA – More than 1.6 million voters sent in their ballots for B.C.'s referendum on the harmonized sales tax, a participation rate that matches the 51 per cent turnout for the 2009 B.C. election.

Elections BC sent out just over three million ballot packages starting in June, then extended the deadline for returning them by two weeks after a labour dispute at Canada Post delayed distribution.

Temporary staff at Elections BC are working seven days a week in two shifts, intending to have the ballots verified and counted by the end of August. A simple majority of votes cast will decide whether B.C. keeps the HST and lowers the rate by two points to 10 per cent in the next three years, or reinstates the former seven per cent provincial sales tax on top of the five per cent federal GST.

Acting chief electoral officer Craig James said the time extension increased the cost of the referendum by $500,000 but the total cost is estimated to be $8.9 million, well under the initial estimate of $12 million.

The only other mail-in referendum in B.C. was the 2002 vote on aboriginal treaty principles, which saw a return of 790,182 votes, about one third of the total sent out.


Anonymous said...

It's going to be close, and I predict that if the "Yes" side wins, the government will trot out some new fix for the tax, likely involving more exemptions than the first one. To bring back the PST and all it entails would be much too onerous. In principle, the HST is good, it's just the way it was structured.

The other thing that hasn't had much mention in all the rhetoric over the past two months is that the government is saving I think $300 million annually as a result of eliminating the PST machinery the Province. Add that to the windfall they've already received in the past 12 months, and it's pretty obvious that they're raking in a lot of dough with the tax.

I hope the "Yes" side wins, if for no other reason than to show the government that it needs to go to the penalty box.

Anonymous said...

With logic like anon 11:52 it is no wonder why we are in the sorry state that we are...

Anonymous said...

Brillant logic Anon 11:52.

Let's have the expense of reinstating 300 gov't employees to administer the PST.

Let's have to repay Ottawa.

Let's have a cumbersome tax system along with tax uncertainty going forward which dissuades economic investment.

Let's reduce the tax support payments for low-income folks by going back to the old system.

Do you think that the politicians will be punished by paying for it out of their own bank accounts?

Yup, we'll really teach them a lesson while the politicians sit in Victoria unscathed and Joe Taxpayer ponies up big time to end up nowhere.

Yup, voting with your gut is way smarter than voting with your brain.

Anonymous said...

7:24 and 8:31 are bang on! Sadly, I think that the faulty logic of 11:52 is going to prevail and set this province back. This wasn't the time to punish the government, that's what elections are for. Why the public was given the chance to decide tax policy I'll never understand.

Anonymous said...

I fear that the average Joe/Jill taxpayer may not have been able to discern the difference between determining the most effective tax policy and stating their displeasure with the politicians at election time.

If they thought that they paid through the nose via the (transparent) HST wait until they see the myriad of (hidden) tax layers that we pay if we return to the old system.

Provincial services cost the same amount under either system except for the federal $$ received under the HST and the ongoing cost of the provincial accountants and added cost to business for the cumulative PST system which will flow through in the cost of goods and services back to the taxpayer.

The public may be appropriate as electors but I'm not so sure they've made the leap to tax accountants.

Anonymous said...

My grandpa gave me the greatest advice.

Never make an important decision:

- until you've determined all the true facts;

- when you're overtired;

- when you've been drinking;

- when you're angry.

When I reflect on the good decisions I've made they all follow grandpa's advice and virtually every bonehead move I've made was the contrary.

According to the talk shows and letters to the editor, many people state that the reason they were voting "yes" was because they were angry.


Anonymous said...

I guess nobody really understood or read exactly what 11:52 wrote. He said the HST was a good tax in principle, just not stellar in the exemptions department, and that if the HST was trounced, the government would likely come up with a better idea. Isn't that was was written?

And they ARE saving money on eliminating the SST tax division, are they not?

We'll all know by the end of the month. And if the HST stays, I predict Christy will call an election for late October!

Anonymous said...

I think that we all read and understood what 11:52 wrote, but it was his last sentence that caused the reactions that you read. Poor logic.

Anonymous said...

There have been reports that the HST referendum results will be made public tomorrow (Thursday) but now it has been extended to
Friday. Vanderzalm has said Elections BC will probably release the results on Monday.

:D Elections BC is probably looking to add a few late "NO" votes. :D

RePete said...

Hmmm... it seems I am the dissenting opinion here... I think the HST is definitely a BAD tax... I hear all the "economist" arguments about how "consumption taxes are progressive and taxes like income tax are regressive" as if that's a case for the HST... problem is... HST is a consumption taxe that is applied all along the supply chain and PST was a consumption tax applied only at the final point of sale. HST adds carrying costs and taxes more stuff than PST did... not just because of the exemptions we had under PST but also because (for the most part) labour was not taxed but goods were.

Now, add to this mess the fact that the libs are clawing back a bunch of the input tax credit savings under the aweful "TEMPORARY RECAPTURE OF INPUT TAX CREDITS (RITC)" for companies selling over $10million per year and now companies as well as consumers are losing under this tax. Why do you think there is a revenue win-fall under this "fiscally neutral" tax?

Anon 8:31... every point you make, you seem to blame the people who voted "yes" for those costs... in reality, the Libs should pay dearly at polls for each and every one of those issues!

So, what was the initial value proposition of this tax?
1) Companies would save money...(many aren't).
2) Less tax administration...if you're a large company with RITC, it isn't... and if they ever want to re-institute environmental incentives like less tax on energy-efficient things they will need a whole new administration.
3) Revenue/Fiscally neutral... it isn't, wasn't and never will be.

What else was supposed to be good about it?

To me, this is a classic case of bureaucrats snow-jobbing the polticians and they believed the crap they got dished!

RePete said...

post-script... and into this all wades Christy.... and then offers to take the rate down and tax companies 2% more! So if my company is losing money now (and we are)... 2% on all our net income more! Now you're damaging the economy! Where are we going to get that 2% from? We'll have to charge more!

Christy took a bad tax and made it worse...

Anonymous said...

PST certainly was not applied only at the final point of sale! That statement alone, Repete, makes the rest of your post dubious at best!

Griffin said...

I think RePete forgot to take into account the fact that if a particular purchase was not used to manufacture the eventual end product, e.g. paper towels for staff, it was not tax exempt. Now the tax paid on everything a company buys, whether for its own use or as an item that becomes part of the end product, can be used to offset taxes collected on sales. That is why it's supposed to be good for business and why things were supposed to become cheaper. I'm still waiting...

The rest of what he says has merit.

Don McBain said...

Well by this time tomorrow we should know the result of the vote, then we can really discust(SIC)how things MAY go.

RePete said...

Hello Griffin and Anon 9:02,

First, I didn't forget to take that into account that some items are consumed and they carried PST. In my case, I work in retail, so certainly the PST we used to pay on our pencils and paper towels was an expense and now is an input tax credit. That being said, as a retailer, the bulk of our economic activity is in the goods we buy and then re-sell... and the volume in dollars makes the PST on the paper towels insignificant when compared to the goods we sell.

I actually measured it out for our company.. we stood to save just under $2,000 per month on the PST on consumed goods and PST-applicable services.... then comes the RITC and 82% of that $2,000 is getting clawed back! Take the measly $360 that's left and deduct the carrying costs of the HST we pay (as we wait for our refund) and we are flat-out losing money.

I do admit, SOME companies will have significant savings, but I can't imagine how any retailers would, because the bulk of what we buy was "for resale" and therefore PST exempt.

Anon 9:02, you refute my arguments... you have better information? Then post it up and convince me! But careful now, because in my business we have to be experts on tax, because if we screw it up the consequences are really bad... so I can easily point you to government bulletins documents, etc that prove my case.

In my years of experience, the principal behind PST was that it was applied at the "final point of sale"... that being where the goods were consumed.... So in retail, we consume paper towels and so we pay PST on them, and we re-sell most purchases which didn't carry PST... now we pay 12% on everything and get some of it back.

And you think this one point makes everything else I say "dubious"? If you had some facts I might be tempted. Have you read "BC HST Notice #4/CRA b-104e"? (2 docs) on the RITC? Are my reports dubious there?

I suspect you are just hoping to discredit my arguments but really, you want to do that, please state your case.

RePete said...

Well I am happy I guess with the result.. but it doesn't mean our problems are over.

In retrospect, I think if the government had introduced the HST at 10% and without RITC, I probably would have foregone my reaction to my personal costs, and probably supported it.. but as it was, too many problems and the Liberals still think they were right.

Now, no government will EVER try to introduce HST in BC... to me, this is about as big a blunder as can be made politically.

Anonymous said...

First thing the government should do is apply GST and PST on everything with the exception of food that will be prepared and consumed within the home and prescription medications

Anonymous said...

For those that thought the HST was uncomfortable prepare for real tax and service cut pain.

John Sharpe said...

Now that the HST has been scrapped the fight has only just begun.

Anonymous said...

John, how cryptic. What on earth do you mean?

G. H. said...

re: My Views.
The 12% HST, on taxable items, is equivalent to a 12% commission to the Federal Government, or "P.M. & Co." who travels the world or lives off the efforts of consumers, retailer, wholesalers, and employees. Even if consumers pay the majority of the 12%, the government does not contribute physically, other than funding, to the health of the local businesses in my community. It is more of a liability or an negative expense to the cost of doing business. So I do not agree with paying HST (after adjustments) on new housing, funnerals, home repairs, etc. Perhaps, the tax should go to municipal governments instead, so that we are involved directly?
P.S. I do not think Canadians who voted YES are morons because we place democracy ahead of greed, but we should form a class action suit to sue accusers for slander in a court of law case.

Anonymous said...

The voters who think that others think that they are morons should form a class action suit to sue for slander those that they think think that they are morons for how they voted with their secret ballots?


Remember, the legal absolute defence for slander is "fair comment".

That means that those anonymous persons that say or publish moronic comments can be viewed as morons for such comments.

Anonymous said...

Government has pitted supporters of various parties against each other in such a way that no common sense prevails. As we sit and bicker amongst ourselves government and the infrastructure that supports government continues to pillage us. I guess most don’t really care and the remaining listens to the rhetoric of politicians instead of the conciseness of professionals.

Anonymous said...

Government has pitted supporters of various parties against each other in such a way that no common sense prevails. As we sit and bicker amongst ourselves government and the infrastructure that supports government continues to pillage us. I guess most don’t really care and the remaining listens to the rhetoric of politicians instead of the conciseness of professionals.

Anonymous said...

Who are these concise professionals?

Anonymous said...

Well if you have a medical problem do you seek the opinion of a medical professional or Bill Vander Zalm or perhaps Chris Delaney? The medical practitioner in this case would be the concise professional. Get it?

Anonymous said...

So the concise professionals are the infrastructure (professional staff) that support government?

i.e. hospital/educational/engineering/policing/ferry administrators with professional degrees in the subject area.

Anonymous said...

Why do they have to have anything to do with the government? There are plenty of professionals out there with no connection to government.

Anonymous said...

If you hold a professional degree and want a career pursue employment in the private or non-profit sectors. If you just want a job pursue employment in the public sector.

Anonymous said...

With great respect, "the non-professionals with no connection to government", (unless they have worked inside the public sector system), have absolutely no idea how gov't works.

Sure a doctor understands medicine. That doesn't mean that he has a clue how to administer the medical system.

A highways engineer doesn't have the administrative background to run the highways system etc.

Administration and technical professional competence are two completely different skill sets.

Administrators have education in business/public sector administration.

You don't need to know how to install a transmission to run General Motors and the transmission installer couldn't run the place either.

Anonymous said...

So the politician trained in, oh I don't, has a better grasp on economics than the professional trained in economics?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:04

Although administrative and technical professional competence are two completely different skill sets, to be effective the person must hold both. The most important skill being technical as some naturally have administrative skills or gain them when acquiring the technical skills.

Administrators or managers that have no technical skills cannot gauge whether a task has been performed well or poorly. This does not really matter in government because there is little or no accountability and the money pit is bottomless. A percentage of administrators really don’t care if the end result was a cost effective solution and nothing happens.

In the private sector this does matter because there is accountability and the money pit is not bottomless. Cost effective solutions are key. The percentage of administrators that don’t care if the end result was a cost effective solution are usually tossed.

The Government has no need to be competitive as they will always exist unlike the private sector business. In government the only incentive is to be seen optically as doing a good job to continue to feed at the trough.

I can tell the non-professionals with no connection to government that have absolutely no idea how gov’t works that it does not work very well. In fact I would say it many instances gov’t is broken.

G H said...

Reality Check:

Our Economy is shifting southward. In particular, half of Surrey BC is along the Washington State border and the Nexus Card allows Canadians to drive through Customs with minimum loss time. Therefore the line of Canadian cars and BC citizens crossing the 49th Parallel are intending to shop in the the US and support American businesses instead of paying HST or support Canadian business. Where are the job creations? Undoubtedly, they are in the United States.
Christy Clark should eliminate the HST in 48 hours or sooner before many Surrey businesses go bankrupt.

G H. said...

Re-structure the Provincial Government Balance Sheet Suggestion:

Sell off the Vancouver Convention Centre for $1.8 Billion, and the B.C. Place for $2.0 Billion. So, the Ministry of Finance run by Kevin Falcon would be smiling with more money for Hospital and Education Wages.

G H said...

Time Constraint Factor:

If the HST Referundum was 6 months long, instead of 2 months, the number of Returned Ballots would have been more than 50%.Probably 80%.

Anonymous said...

Gary, if the referendum had been longer, the pro-HST side would have won. The HST went from an 80% disapproval rating to a 52% disapproval rating in just months. If people had more time to actually become educated about the benefits and lose some of the anger about how it was brought in, I have no doubt that the HST would stay in place. Where on earth do you come up with your ideas?

John Sharpe said...

Had the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins played best of nine games instead of best of seven in the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Finals, 'I have no doubt' the Vancouver Canucks would have won.
Where on earth do you come up with your ideas?

G H said...

During the Citizens Initiative earlier in 2011, a North Shore petitioner signed one of my petition forms and said that he purchased car tires in the United States because of the lower cost. He would not buy tires in Canada again.
Certainly, most cross-border shoppers have lost a lot of loyalty towards Canadian Merchants especially for small businesses in Surrey and Richmond, due to the HST increase.
Trivial issues should as HST sentiment and pity are unimportant to some North Shore residents today, since Canadians are still being gouged by taxation daily. Also, Liberal politicians in Victoria BC earned more than the basic annual salary of $90,000.00. Hence, their concerned for the welfare of their electorate was insignificant but significant for the large resource corporations, etc. after July 1, 2010
I wish not to argue with Mr. Anon. over his viewpoints, because democracy has finally been achieved and won.
So I wish him Cheers and Happiness.
However, he can still donate spare change or money to a charity organization of his choice; they would no doubt appreciate his unbaise generousity.

Anonymous said...

Now the result of the defeat of the HST. Deeper debt for BC.

Kevin Falcon is asking the public where you would like to see $$ cuts in the Provincial budget.

A few grand here or there isn`t going to do it. He needs about $1/2 billion in cuts just to stay out of the hole.

So, for those who voted for the PST what are your ideas for gov`t cuts.

Anonymous said...

Oh but they don't want any cuts to any services. And they don't want to pay taxes for the services they're already getting!

Anonymous said...

Talk about a boomerang.

The unions told their members to vote against the HST so, the less astute did just that.

Then the union goes to negotiate a big raise and there's no money due to the defeat of the HST.

Boing. Boomerang right in the back of the head.

G H said...

I am suggesting that the BC Liberal Government and Kevin Falcon look at the Public Assets Inventory and evaluate the market value of the Vancouver Convention Centre, the B.C. Place, and the Canada Line. Then put them up for sale. If the value of the above assets is $4. Billion, we could reduce our provincial mortgage obligations and avoid the operating and maintenance cost. Thus enabling us to be more sustainable and convert to the PST and GST with less pressure from the Federal Government HST involvement.

Anonymous said...

But Gary, it makes absolutely no sense to sell profitable assets to solve a short term problem. You've got to start thinking long term and not just how much you personally are going to be out of pocket. Had you given that some real, ernest thought, you'd have seen that keeping the HST was the right choice. But you and your ilk blew it and created this mess, now you need to lie in it.

Anonymous said...

Well Anon, you're probably right but you've got to give Gary credit for, at least, putting forward something to try to resolve the mess the anti-HST folk have created.

I'm still interested in hearing from other anti-HST folk. What cuts and/or higher tax solutions do you favour to resolve the upcoming deficit?