Tax watch

Op­po­si­tion warns of pos­si­ble HST hike in P.E.I.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE -

If the HST is raised in P.E.I., se­niors, fam­i­lies and vul­ner­a­ble Is­lan­ders will bear the brunt, says Op­po­si­tion fi­nance critic Dar­lene Comp­ton.

Comp­ton told Premier Wade MacLauch­lan to “come clean’’ with Is­lan­ders on his plans to raise the har­mo­nized sales tax.

“It’s look­ing more and more like the premier and his re­gional coun­ter­parts have been cook­ing up a se­cret deal be­hind closed doors to raise taxes again,’’ Comp­ton, the Belfast-Mur­ray River MLA, said in a state­ment re­leased Thurs­day.

“It’s sim­ply not good enough to say it’s pre­ma­ture to com­ment at this time. The premier needs to be crys­tal clear with Is­lan­ders.’’

Nova Sco­tia Premier Stephen McNeil is call­ing on the At­lantic provinces to come to­gether on a com­mon HST rate of 15 per cent.

Is­lan­ders have been pay­ing har­mo­nized sales tax on some goods since April 1, 2013.

The to­tal tax in the prov­ince ac­tu­ally de­creased from 15.5 per cent to 14 with the in­tro­duc­tion of HST, but tax in­creased on cer­tain com­modi­ties.

McNeil ar­gues the HST is the fairest tax in the re­gion as long as it is com­mon.

Comp­ton says the HST has added $80 mil­lion a year to the tax bill, footed by Is­land fam­i­lies.

“Rais­ing the HST will hurt Is­lan­ders by tak­ing more money out of their pock­ets,’’ she says.

“In­creas­ing the HST won’t help grow a frag­ile econ­omy or cre­ate jobs for Is­lan­ders as re­cent his­tory has shown.’’

A spokesman from the Fi­nance Depart­ment says since govern­ment has just be­gun its an­nual pre-bud­get con­sul­ta­tions with Is­lan­ders, it would be un­fair to Is­lan­ders to spec­u­late about what will be in the bud­get un­til the process is com­plete.

“No de­ci­sions will be made un­til af­ter we have gath­ered in­put from Is­lan­ders,’’ he said.

“It’s look­ing more and more like the premier and his re­gional coun­ter­parts have been cook­ing up a se­cret deal be­hind closed doors to raise taxes again.”

Dar­lene Comp­ton

Comp­ton

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