Liberals would scrap PST for one year

A zero PST would cost government $7 billion in first year

Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson said his government would run deficits to pay for tax cut. | Jeremy Hainsworth

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson vowed Monday to scrap the PST for one year, if his party formed government, and then reintroduce it in the second year at 3%.

The PST is currently 7% on most goods and services.

Wilkinson made the announcement in Richmond Monday, along with the party's four Richmond candidates, including Alexa Loo, the Olympic athlete and two-term richmond city councillor, who is running for the Liberals in Richmond South Centre.

"We need bold action," Wilkinson said. "So a BC Liberal government will eliminate the provincial sales tax for a full year. In the second year, we'll reduce it to 3%. Because this will give people a spring in their step."

Scrapping the tax would cost the provincial government $7 billion in the first year. The BC government is already running a major deficit, due to the pandemic.

Wilkinson confirmed his government would resort to deficit spending to pay for the tax cut, which means his plan would dramatically increase the provincial deficit.

"Everyone knows that we're in a big economic crisis," Wilkinson said. "And this is not a time to worry about the details so much as to get people back to work, and one of the ways to get people back to work is to stimulate the economy by reducing taxes.

"Every goverment in the Western world is anticipating deficit spending for the next few years," he said.

Wilkinso also said a Liberal government would not cut services to pay for the temporary elimination of the PST.

"When you hear from the NDP about asnything suggesting that we're going to be cutting health and education, they are wrong," he said. "They're making it up.

Asked if he would cut other taxes, Wilkinson said the NDP government had introduced or hiked 23 taxes, but then neglected to say whether a Liberal government would reverse any of those new taxes or tax hikes.

His reticence to announce any other tax cut measures have not stopped the NDP from speculating that a Liberal government would scrap the new employter health tax, which replaced MSP premiums.

The NDP recently issued a press release headlined: "Wilkinson’s plan to eliminate the Employer Health Tax would mean cuts to healthcare or bringing back MSP."

As yet, the Liberals have not said if they would elminate the new payroll tax.

The one other tax Wilksinson has vowed to scrap is the real estate speculation tax. Over the weekend he said a Liberal government would scrap the speculation tax and replace it with a capital gains tax on condo presales.

nbennett@biv.com

@nbennett_biv