One small Trail woman with a big message is rejoicing after taxpayers voted to extinguish the Harmonized Sales Tax.
Annette Gallatin, 68, is in total “ecstasy” now that B.C. will scrap the blended tax and the system will revert back to having two separate taxes in 18 months.
“I’m sorry, it chokes me up,” she said. “I’m amazed but I’m also gratified to know that if you believe in something and you give it all you got, you can accomplish just about anything.”
Gallatin was spurred into action when she first heard about the HST, which blended the provincial sales tax (PST) with the federal goods and services tax.
The 12 per cent HST equaled the two separate taxes, but is levied on a number of goods and services to which the PST did not apply, including utility bills, haircuts, snack foods in grocery stores and airplane tickets.
Gallatin’s disapproval of this tax was heard by B.C. Conservative and former Unity Party leader Chris Delaney and former premier Bill Vander Zalm, who brought the campaign against the tax to Trail last year.
“I knew if I could get them to lead the charge that I could pick up my socks and keep it going,” she said. “We were fighting the big boys.”
Along with help from Mary Gay from Montrose, Gallatin’s goal was reached. All three Kootenay ridings voted overwhelmingly to get rid of the HST, according to Elections B.C., with Kootenay West holding the third highest “yes” vote in the province at 69.6 per cent. Overall, the vote was close, with 55 per cent of British Columbians for repeal and 45 per cent for retention, it was announced last week.
But not everyone shared Gallatin’s view. The HST was supported by economists, who pointed to the business value of reducing the costs for industry.
“I’m very sad because I think that unfortunately the people who voted the other way did not understand the way the HST worked,” said Royce Schmidt, who owns a small promotional business in Montrose.
“They have this feeling that the business pay taxes but business just pass their costs onto their consumers,” he added. “Unfortunately, with Ontario and soon to be Quebec with an HST, the cost of doing business in those provinces is just going to be lower and when businesses choose where to locate, they’re going to avoid B.C.”