Friday, July 31, 2009

Taxes!

Dear Constituents,

Thank you for all the letters this week about the government's announcement of their plans to "harmonize" our provincial tax with the federal one.

Many of you will not have heard of it yet. It's called the harmonized sales tax or HST.

You know me, I'm all about harmony! But in this case I see some problems on the horizon and I'm not alone. In fact, every single person who has spoken to me about this has been either shocked or angry.

And your feelings are well founded.....springing a new tax on us without consultation is unacceptable. Why was this not discussed during the election period? I don't think there are many British Columbians who appreciate these tactics.

Why am I concerned? Well, for starters, there are a number of important exemptions in the current PST. There are products or services on which one does not have to pay the PST right now. Harmonizing the taxes has impact of removing those exemptions. So you pay more. More for everything from funeral services to household renovations and bicycles.

When you see a government increasing taxes on "green" choices, you have to wonder what they are thinking? Is the HST all bad? I'm not sure yet. I am going through the information bit by bit to analyze the possible impacts.

I can tell you one thing though, and increasing or decreasing taxes has the potential to shape our behaviour

We need to push our tax system to DECREASE taxes on products and services that benefit us and INCREASE taxes on the opposite. This is the idea behind high taxes on tobacco.

I like that kind of positive solution.

But under the HST you will have to pay 7% more to buy a bicycle! Bikes reduce congestion, pollution and global warming and makes us healthier!

Increasing taxes on them is the wrong thing to do.

I'm working on solutions right now. I'd like to hear your thoughts. Please visit my facebook page to make a public comment or email me at lana.popham@leg.bc.ca.

Happy British Columbia day! I hope this long weekend gives you time to pause, enjoy this hot weather and be with those who make you happy.

Lana

PS. I'd like to share a letter I received a few days ago from a prominent member of our constituency and addressed to our Premier:
July 25, 2009
You’ve finally lost my vote on the harmonized tax, not that the individual seems to matter even though small voter turnout means each vote has more impact.

I am adamantly opposed to the harmonized tax, and, no, I don’t believe businesses will pass on their benefit to the individual, but I am even more opposed to the arrogance behind announcing the tax as a fait accompli. Implying that HST wasn’t on the agenda 3 months ago, before the election, is an insult to the intelligence of the public or yourselves.

And, yes, of course anything can be rationalized but rationalization does not guarantee voters will be convinced....

As Lana Popham is my MLA I am copying this to her to register my opinion on the HST.

J.I., Saanich South, Victoria.
[Full name withheld by request; reprinted with permission.]