Jeff Ciecko, another esteemed and regular reader of GNN, made some legitimate points about British Columbians turning thumbs down on the HST at the bottom of this blog.
Jeff points out that less than 50 per cent of eligible voters bothered to respond, so he argues that it wasn’t a loud and clear message. The point is that there was enough vocal outrage and enough of a vote to make a difference after the HST was forced upon them.
Also, a GNN Poll that ran a couple of weeks ago indicates that the golf industry feels there could be more such referendums in the future if governments try to implement the HST. At last count, 58 per cent expected future backlash, while 42 per cent didn’t if that took place.
“The HST (in B.C.) at least brought golf course owners and operators some tax savings,” wrote Jeff.
Perhaps, but at what cost? I would argue Jeff’s contention that rounds of golf aren’t growing because the weather this year has been horrible across the country. While that is indeed part of the problem, various studies have shown that affordability is the biggest barrier to people playing the game.
Whether it’s a tax or the actual green fee, it’s still more money coming out of consumers’ wallets. They don’t care where it’s going, only that they’re forking it over and there’s always a fear that it could get worse.
Here’s what GNN blogger Ted Stonehouse, a member of the golf industry, had to say last year when Nova Scotia jacked up its HST by two per cent to 15 per cent. Click here for that blog.
So, golf course owners and operators receiving tax benefits doesn’t mean jack to consumers who now pay more on a wider variety of items than before the HST. Given the number of small businesses and mom and pop operators in golf, that may seem harsh, but from a consumer standpoint, who’s looking out for them?
It might be a good idea to listen to the people we count on to make cash registers ring, instead of just lapping up every tax saving we can get. They’re about as interested in hearing your problems as you are in listening to their burdens, even though theirs are the same ones you face outside your operations.
It’s survival baby and they come first, just like you come first when it comes to your operation. Every time, they stop at the pumps and a tank of gas costs them more, something else has to give.
If it doesn’t, we run into the debt crisis many of us have these days and no song-and-dance from oil companies or insurance companies about why they jacked up their prices is going to take the sting out of forking over extra cash. In the case of golf, participation takes a hit, bad weather or not.
A legitimate case could be made that golf and any other recreation should be tax exempt due to its health benefits, especially considering the amount of tax money that governments take from products that are bad for us, such as tobacco, but that’s another argument.
From a golf industry perspective, if the HST is in place, how do consumers react when the operator decides he/she needs to raise the price of a green fee or membership just to keep up with rising costs? Do they look at it as a gouge as they are with gas and insurance?
Rightly or wrongly, they do.
So, it is correct that there were certain benefits for business that went along with the HST, but when consumers back away or decrease the number of rounds that they play, the cost is too steep for both consumers and the golf industry.
Stalling participation will never be good for the industry.