A photo of a 'tax shift' button on a cash register. British Columbia returned to the Provincial Sales Tax Monday

A photo of a 'tax shift' button on a cash register. British Columbia returned to the Provincial Sales Tax Monday

Recent poll shows slight majority of B.C. residents support scrapping HST

Poll conducted by Insights West on the pros and cons of the HST versus PST.

Insights West, a Western-based marketing research company, released details about an Harmonized Sales Tax versus Provincial Sales Tax online poll it conducted of “Your Insights” panel members between March 26 – 31, 2013.

The PST is being re-instated in British Columbia as of Monday, April 1 and will replace the Harmonized Sales Tax, a combination of the five-per-cent federal goods and services tax and the PST, the Liberal government rolled out in 2009.

The poll shows a slight majority, 52 per cent, of British Columbians support the doing away of the HST, while 37 per cent remained totally opposed to the change; 11 per cent were unsure.

A larger percentage of those polled believe the return to the PST will harm the B.C. economy (39 per cent) than those who believe other-wise (28 per cent) and 13 per cent were unsure about the effects the change might have.

Those polled were also asked if they planned to buy or spend more or less on 20 products and services after the change. The items were a mix of those taxed at a lower rate post-HST and those that would not be.

Between 55 per cent and 80 per cent of respondents, depending on the item, indicated the sales tax change would have no impact on buying behaviour.

“Most British Columbians are apparently not willing to commit to the idea of spending more, which may reflect a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude towards how the change will ultimately impact the price of various goods and services,” commented Catherine Dawson, senior vice-president, Insights West in the release.

“Results may also suggest some confusion about how the tax rates on particular items will change. Greater willingness to spend on restaurant meals versus the other items we tested may be due to higher general awareness that the tax rate will decrease when they dine out, perhaps due to more media coverage on the topic,” Dawson said.