HST Referendum Results

Comments 26 by Rebecca Bollwitt

The HST referendum results were released this morning and just over 54% voted “YES” to extinguish the combined tax in BC.

On July 1st, 2010, the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) came into play in BC. It combined our GST (5%) with the PST (7%) into one single 12% tax.

A few months ago registered voters in BC received referendum cards in the mail. They could vote “YES” to extinguish tax or “No” to keep it. The deadline for ballots was extended when Canada Post went on strike. 1.6 million voters have decided they would like to return to the PST (Provincial Sales Tax).

Looking at the official results from Elections BC, you can see that ridings such as Surrey-Green Timbers (75.51% Yes) and Vancouver-Kingsway (72.45% Yes) were highly in favour of getting rid of the HST. Ridings such as West Vancouver-Sea to Sky (60.78% No) and West Vancouver-Capilano (64.52% No) wanted it to stay.

There are arguments on both sides about who benefitted, why it was applied to things that were PST exempt, what it meant to consumers, and where these extra tax dollars were going. As a business owner, I actually liked the HST. As a consumer, I didn’t so much. I’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts on these results.

Fight HST (site looks like it’s currently down)
Say No to HST in BC
“Problems with BC Business Council’s Pro-HST Study” The Tyee
“Pro-HST Economist Defends His BC Business Council Study” The Tyee
A sortable list of results thanks to Darren Barefoot

26 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. KodyFriday, August 26th, 2011 — 11:32am PDT

    I haven’t heard a single compelling reason to revert to GST/PST. I think this was a referendum on informed vs. uninformed.

  2. AlisaFriday, August 26th, 2011 — 11:33am PDT

    I’m not even remotely stoked on the fact that money will have to be repaid to the federal government, which will mean funding cuts, which have a tendency to affect things we need.

  3. MegFriday, August 26th, 2011 — 11:33am PDT

    I agree – those who voted to scrap it didn’t understand it.

  4. John ChowFriday, August 26th, 2011 — 11:34am PDT

    And people are asking why I’m leaving BC.

  5. Ronald DesJardinsFriday, August 26th, 2011 — 11:35am PDT

    @Kody, @Alisa, @Meg: You’re all so right. This decision has more of an impact on the province. I, like many others, detested how the HST was brought in… but I am so disappointed on the lack of informed voters.

  6. AngelaFriday, August 26th, 2011 — 11:36am PDT

    I feel like we didn’t even give it a shot. all this money has now been wasted on a system that i think could’ve been very beneficial.

    I agree with you, Kody, that there has not been any compelling reason to revert back.

    I feel like the day Harpo was re-elected.

  7. NateFriday, August 26th, 2011 — 11:37am PDT

    Those saying it’s a vote of informed vs. uninformed are absolutely right. How ironic that populations (here’s looking at you, Surrey) that presumably have the most families with school-aged children turned out some of the highest numbers to put the province in massive debt.

    It’s almost as if people thought they were being asked “Do you like taxes?” or “Do you like Gordon Campbell?”

    The point has been thoroughly missed.

  8. Sherman WooFriday, August 26th, 2011 — 11:37am PDT

    I completely agree with your last paragraph. However, thinking beyond “me” and thinking for the greater good of the Province, the HST was a good thing. Ask any accountant, economics expert, and even small business (who rely on the consumer dollars). This is what convinced me that it was “better” for all of us, in the long-run.

    I think what we’ll see is the equivalent tax for things that used to be only PST. E.g., we’ll be charged PST + GST at restaurants, which means we’re no better off. In fact, we’re worse off b/c of the costs involved all the way around (incl. the money we have to pay back to Feds). More PST administration/bureaucracy will also add to costs. AND, we lose the drop from 12% to 11% to 10%.

    I am not looking forward to the next few years in BC, and am saddened for my children who have to inherit this future.

  9. BlissfulGirlFriday, August 26th, 2011 — 11:40am PDT

    My impression is that those who voted to get rid of the HST did so less out of dislike for the actual tax and more out of the back-handed (some say deceitful) way it was brought about. I doubt we’ve seen the last of this no matter what Christy Clark has said. One of the TV pundits this morning said that it would take approx. 2 years for the HST to actually be fully repelled and the PST reinstated during which time we’ll still be paying/collecting/administrating the HST as is.

  10. Michelle ChopinFriday, August 26th, 2011 — 11:45am PDT

    There were plenty of positive reasons to maintain the HST, and NO guarantee that if we reverted back to the GST/PST combination, that items would still be exempt from PST. Which means that instead of a reduced HST rate to 10%, we could potentially have been stuck with a 12% tax that still applied to everything – including our groceries, alcohol and housing.

    In addition, now that the HST has to be retracted….the cost is $1.6 billion….I give anyone ONE guess as to where that money will have to come from. Yes, that’s right. Us – the taxpayers….not to mention the costs for the referendum vote itself….

    Not saying that the HST was the answer to everything. In my opinion, coming from Europe, where tax is a standard rate across the board and is incorporated into everything you buy, why North America (this goes for the US as well) doesn’t just have the price you see as the price you pay. Then there would be no need for this sort of issue, voting where many are uninformed, and huge costs offsetting the whole purpose of paying taxes in the first place. In addition, this means that NO ONE is exempt from taxes – they are there to support our infrastructure, job creation, education, healthcare etc. These are things that everyone benefits from – so there is no reason that anyone should avoid a contribution.

  11. AlisaFriday, August 26th, 2011 — 11:45am PDT

    @Blissful It’s frustrating, because those people who voted to get rid of it in order to spite the Liberals only ended up screwing all of us over.

  12. ShaneFriday, August 26th, 2011 — 11:52am PDT

    This was a vote against the liberals by many uninformed voters who didn’t realise what was actually at stake.

    As a small biz owner, this is a harsh blow. Consider all the paperwork to catch up, the potential fee’s & fines for filing pst/gst late since hst was brought in, the costs to change our billing & accounting systems, order forms, etc. and the cost of filing & tracking 2 different taxes with different rules.

    As a consumer, I now will pay more; guaranteed.

    Epic fail.

  13. DaveFriday, August 26th, 2011 — 12:00pm PDT

    Why is no one mentioning that we (BC) were given that 1.6 billion by the Feds so they could have their grubby hands in our provincial tax pie. It’s money we never had in the first place! Business and numbers be damned for a minute, I’ll chalk this up as a win for Democracy and the will of the people.

  14. MikeFriday, August 26th, 2011 — 12:06pm PDT

    I agree with Shane – as a small biz owner I am not looking forward to the next few months of changing back to the antiquated PST system and all the costs it incurs for me. This defeat will definately cost me a substantial part of my business (and income) and send it directly to Ontario – who are laughing at us right now…

    This was a victory only for the misinformed and shortsighted, not for BC.

  15. MarkFriday, August 26th, 2011 — 12:17pm PDT

    When you’re talking about informed vs uninformed, please look closely at the way the information is presented to us:
    – HST is supposed to be revenue neutral. No, the govt’s website clearly states that BC will lose close over $800 mil/yr. in revenue if we scrap HST. Keep in mind, the reduction in income tax wasn’t even implemented.

    So revenue neutral? No! Not only was the way the tax brought in unethical, but we also needed to send a message to the govt that it’s not ok to treat us like a bunch of ignorant idiots…SO THEY WILL NOT DO IT AGAIN!!!

  16. SimonFriday, August 26th, 2011 — 12:31pm PDT

    sad victory for the Anti-HS Tea Party.

    The fact is that the old system built excess non-productive costs into our business sector.

    Look for Movie and Forestry to be hit quite badly as we revert back to a system introduced in the good old 1940/50s (which I suspect weren’t that good overall).

    At least the rest of Canada will have their suspicions confirmed when it comes to the craziness of BC politics.

  17. SimonFriday, August 26th, 2011 — 12:31pm PDT

    sad victory for the Anti-HS Tea Party.

    The fact is that the old system built excess non-productive costs into our business sector.

    Look for Movie and Forestry to be hit quite badly as we revert back to a system introduced in the good old 1940/50s (which I suspect weren’t that good overall).

    At least the rest of Canada will have their suspicions confirmed when it comes to the craziness of BC politics.

  18. MartinFriday, August 26th, 2011 — 1:19pm PDT

    Initially I was against the HST, but as a small business owner, I was starting to see some of the HST benefits – and was able to keep prices stable and was heading towards price reductions (due to HST benefit of tax recovery). Now, with HST rejected – I’m concerned how the business community will react (could result in a “storm of price increases”)

  19. Alan CFriday, August 26th, 2011 — 1:40pm PDT

    There was some idiot in the newspaper (Metro maybe?) that ranted about the HST and his summary was to get rid of it to “teach the Liberals a lesson”. Really? So you’d burn down your house to get rid of some rats? That’ll teach them. He also said “A vote to abolish the tax proves that democracy works” Actually, idiot, a vote to keep it would demonstrate the same thing.

    The public comments on an anti-HST site were no better. Saw one that said “I don’t care if it costs us all more money in the long-run, the government needs to know they can’t do that anymore”. Yeah… that sounds tooootally level-headed and reasonable.

    Unfortunately, anger > sensibility in this vote. Way to go, dummies.

  20. LRFSaturday, August 27th, 2011 — 9:26am PDT

    I can understand why buisness owners and those who benefited from the hst would say the rest of us were uninformed all I know is since the hst came into effect I have found it harder and harder to feed clothe and support my family it may have benefited you but not me. It just made everything more expensive. All the buisnesses around where I live felt the need to compensate for the tax by increasing prices clear across the bord. Toilete paper which before cost me about 6$ went up to 10$, eating at a restaurant which before cost me 35$ suddenly cost me 60$. All the buisnesses justified the increase by saying oh i have to pay hst. All I say as a consumer, mother, and single parent. When do I get my money back from being over charged for the exact same services.I dont care about the liberals.I just want to be able to take care of my family again.

  21. politics101Sunday, August 28th, 2011 — 9:29am PDT

    One thing that I have yet to hear an NDP supporter who opposed the HST explain to me is how can they campaign against the tax in BC while in the Province of Nova Scotia where they voted against the original deal to bring the HST to the Maritime provinces and then after becoming the government in that province raised the HST by 2% – they didn`t campaign on that is okay but not okay in BC. It also created a significant new revenue stream that allowed the government to post a healthy surplus which they will of course use for their social programs.

    The NDP and their labour allies are also strongly opposed to consumption taxes which the HST is YET every major country in Europe and most have had long periods of social democratic rule are quite happy with the tax.

    In looking at the results in areas like Richmond and Surrey it would appear that people from the Asian communities who practice a cash only way of doing business didn`t like the tax because they couldn`t avoid it and therefore voted to get rid of it.

  22. HollySunday, August 28th, 2011 — 1:40pm PDT

    I suspect business owners do benifit from the HST, its average hourly workers, low income families and seniors hurt by the HST. I beleive this was the entire point all along. People cant affotrd 12% tax on EVERYTHING they purchase. And tax nuetral my ass, you bleeding hearts need to get a life, wake up and smell the tax grab.

  23. politics101Sunday, August 28th, 2011 — 8:56pm PDT

    Holly – since when did groceries get charged the HST – remember you said the tax is on EVERYTHING.

  24. StudentSunday, August 28th, 2011 — 11:22pm PDT

    For those people that say they have young children and the HST made it hard for them to feed and clothe. The government had a credit for that. $175 for every child while the transition took place from 12% to 10%. An additional 2% off the tax rate, better paying jobs, and credits was a guarantee. People that voted against the HST didn’t care enough to research that it was an efficienct way of taxation. I thought British Columbians were a little smarter.

  25. KarinTuesday, September 6th, 2011 — 8:11pm PDT

    Aside from the fact that ordinary wage earners found themselves paying HST on many things that were PST exempt, it was the way that the HST was brought in that was most objectionable – on a lie. The Liberals said they weren’t going to & the first thing they did was do it anyway. That kind of arrogance, lack of ethics & complete disregard of citizens from politicians cannot pass unchallenged, ever, if we want to continue to antything to say at all about what government does. We already have a plutocracy. Let’s not let it slide into a complete dictorship by corporate & high income interests.

  26. KarinTuesday, September 6th, 2011 — 8:12pm PDT

    oops, apologies for typos!

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