Is the HST really good for business?
Published Thursday, June 23, 2011 1:58PM PDT
The number of workers at International Marine Floatation Systems in Delta has more than tripled since the harmonized sales tax came in, from five to 16.
Accounting is easier and equipment purchases are less costly – and management is in love with the new tax, said controller Lawrence Adler.
"I thought all my Christmases had landed on the same day. It was that great for me," he said.
The HST is expected to create 24,000 new jobs by the end of the decade, and B.C. businesses are supposed to pay it forward by lowering the cost of their products and services. But are they?
We did our own unscientific poll in the CTV consumer unit, phoning dozens of businesses in Metro Vancouver to see if they've either hired staff or lowered prices because of the HST.
Of the 50 businesses called, only one has hired more staff and just two have dropped their prices modestly. In fact, we got a blast on the phone from many B.C. business owners who hate the tax, including the owner of a popular Kitsilano gym.
Ron Zalko, owner of the Ron Zalko Fitness Club, despises the HST and so do his customers, who never had to pay a tax on their gym memberships before.
"Suddenly they have to pay seven per cent - this is disgusting! You should not penalize fitness and exercise," said Zalko.
Zalko says he's been forced to reduce his membership fees to mollify angry customers.
But what about International Marine Floatation Systems? Has it started passing on savings to the consumer?
"Our prices are lower," said Alder.
And Alder expects it's just a matter of time before other B.C. businesses follow suit. He says getting rid of the HST would be a colossal mistake.
"It's really hard for me to imagine going back to the PST. It's like going back to the horse and buggy or something," he said.
The referendum ballots will all be in the mail soon. You have to be a registered voter in B.C. to get one.
If you're not on that list you can call Elections BC at 1-800-661-8683. You have until midnight on July 8 to request an HST referendum voting package. And when you get your ballot, you have until 4:30 p.m. on July 22 to return it.
The referendum results will be announced in August. You have to have lived in B.C. for at least six months to be able to vote.
Watch CTV News at Six for a report from CTV British Columbia's Lynda Steele