Wednesday May 11, 2011

BC Politics

Gov't Loopholes Encourage Tax Avoidance

Greens want people to be informed before voting on the HST

Submitted by Office of the Green Party


arty members will exercise individual responsibility  May 9, 2011, Victoria, BC. At its Annual General Meeting (AGM) May 8, 2011, the members of the Green
Party of BC decided not to take a position on the HST referendum.


The Green Party of  BC has long standing policy in support of taxing things that are bad and removing taxes from things that are good. If we are to make the rapid changes that are required to respond appropriately to climate change, pollution, preventable disease and overconsumption, we need to use available tax instruments to change behaviour.


The party actually supports broadly based valued added taxes as fairer and more effective than the existing loophole ridden income tax structure. Since the HST was proposed, the Green Party of BC has cautioned the BC Liberal government that the tax was problematic. In August of 2009, we recommended that the government consider lowering the tax to 10% and retaining PST exemptions on things like bicycles.


When it was obvious that the tax was in trouble, we repeated these suggestions. We are happy to see that Premier Christy Clark is musing about changes although her timing makes it seem more political than based in sound
taxation policy.

"Our members are independent thinkers," comments Jane Sterk, leader of the Green Party of BC. "While there was passionate debate, the party members concluded that this is an opportunity for the people of BC to
make a decision."

"We respect the right of people to vote as they see fit. We know people feel betrayed by the way the government introduced the tax. The referendum will be binding on the government. The people now have the responsibility to vote in the best interests of BC and we trust they will do so," said Sterk.

"BC Greens believe that we need to overhaul our tax structure. There is a general assumption that the so-called "progressive" income tax is fair because the rich pay a bigger share of the tax. In fact, rich people and corporations use the income tax system to avoid paying taxes and governments of all stripes have introduced loopholes that encourage those with means to avoid taxes. As a result, taxes have been shifted increasingly to the middle class with some token
protection for the poor."

"Greens believe that we must tax those things that are threatening our survival, that we should make it easier to choose a sustainable lifestyle and that our tax system should penalize companies that behave irresponsibly. We need sufficient revenue to pay for the services we need. That is not currently the case. The combined revenue from income taxes, sales taxes, fees and royalties continues to leave us in a deficit position and accumulating debt," she said.

"Only the Green Party talks about living within our means and a fair tax system. Only the Green Party talks about limits to growth. Only the Green Party equates sustainability to survival. None of this has much to do with the HST referendum," concludes Sterk.


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