Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jim Flaherty on the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST)

Since Conservatives seem to be suddenly weak in the knees on the HST, let's just take a quick look at the federal Conservatives' record thus far on the HST. From Deficit Jim's 2008 federal budget (scroll down to bottom of pg):
Replacing remaining provincial retail sales taxes (RSTs) with value-added taxes harmonized with the GST is another area where provinces can contribute to strengthening Canada’s Tax Advantage. Provincial RSTs impair competitiveness because they apply to business inputs, increasing production costs and deterring investment. By comparison, a value-added tax system provides most businesses with full tax relief through the input tax credit mechanism. Provincial sales tax harmonization is the single most important step provinces with RSTs could take to improve the competitiveness of Canadian businesses.
More from Deficit Jim who is pushing adoption by hold-out provinces:
Ottawa is prepared to cut a cheque to three holdout provinces if they agree to merge their sales taxes with the federal GST, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Tuesday.

Ontario and British Columbia signed lucrative agreements this year to harmonize their taxes, with the federal government kicking in billions of dollars to ease the transition.

Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island could also get their share of federal cash if they jump on the bandwagon and move to a single tax, Flaherty said.

"We'll see what their governments decide to do," he said.

"But the same proposal - in terms of transition funding - that we made with the province of Ontario followed by the province of British Columbia is available to those provinces as well. The same formula."
...
Flaherty said tax harmonization is an important step to put Canada back on firm economic footing.

"This is solid economic policy in the long run for Canadian businesses and therefore for Canadian jobs and for growth of the Canadian economy," he said after announcing Ottawa's share of a joint federal-provincial, $93.5-million project to expand a waste water treatment plant in Pickering, about 30 kilometres east of Toronto. (emphasis added)
The HST is clearly a Conservative-driven policy that yes, Ontario and B.C. have adopted, viewing it in similar terms to Flaherty. Sure there are other quotes out there, but that's a quick search.

You can run brave Conservative MPs, but you can't hide...