Cutting B.C.’s provincial sales tax to zero for a year would get the provincial economy going again, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson says.
Wilkinson promised that if he is elected in the Oct. 24 provincial vote, the PST would be removed from goods and services for one year, and then brought back in the following year with the rate reduced from seven per cent to three.
“A major cut to the provincial sales tax gives people a chance to get ahead, to do the things they want to do, to get out to restaurants and enjoy life,” Wilkinson said at a campaign stop in Richmond Sept. 28.
“This will give a family of four an average tax reduction of $1,700. We need to stimulate this economy while getting people back involved and to get them back to work, and that’s exactly what this will do.”
He estimated that the tax relief would cost the provincial treasury $6.9 billion over a year, further pushing up a record deficit already expected to be close to $13 billion for the current fiscal year due to the impact of COVID-19 and emergency spending programs.
Sales taxes are regressive because low-income people spend more of their income on day-to-day expenses, so removing sales tax will help them most, Wilkinson argued. And deficits are a fact of life as the world struggles to recover from the pandemic.
“We should be under no illusions,” he said. “There will be deficit spending for a few years to come, in every jurisdiction in the western world.”
Wilkinson vowed that there would be no reductions in health care, education or other services as a result of the PST cut.
NDP leader John Horgan began the second week of his surprise election campaign in Victoria, touting increases in surgical services such as hip and knee replacements and cataract surgeries. Those gains were set back by the pandemic, with an estimated 30,000 procedures delayed and surgical services bolstered with longer hours in an effort to catch up.
Horgan said the B.C. Liberals will scrap his government’s employer health tax, brought in last year to replace Medical Services Plan premiums with a payroll tax. That raises $1.8 billion to fund health services, and is the same style of tax as other provinces with a lower rate, Horgan said.