HST is a Political Hot Potato

Recently I served as a Niagara Association of REALTORS® delegate at the annual Ontario Political Affairs Conference of the Ontario Real Estate Association. During the course of three day conference held in Toronto, attendees were addressed by two leaders of provincial political parties-Tim Hudak of the Progressive Conservatives and Andrea Horwath, of the New Democrats- and also by the current Minister of Revenue, Tom Wilkinson. Believe me; it is unusual for politicians at this level of our governmental hierarchy, regardless of political stripe, to be so concerned about maintaining favour with real estate agents.

 You may have guessed by now what particular topic was the hot button issue of the week. Yes, it was indeed, the impending Harmonized Sales Tax. The Ontario Real Estate Association is actively lobbying in opposition to the implementation of HST because it is concerned that home sales will be negatively impacted  when the cost of all real estate related services, including legal fees, commissions and home inspections, becomes subject to an additional eight per cent tax effective July 1, 2010.

 The real estate industry is, therefore, a natural ally for Mr. Hudak and Ms. Horwath when our Association is taking on this fight on behalf of our consumers. Both leaders, in an unusual occurrence of ideological alignment, characterized the budget measure as an unfair tax grab and an assault on taxpayer’s wallets. They presented little in the way of recommended alternatives for dealing with the current shortage in provincial revenue or excess in operating expenses-depending, of course, on your particular point of view.

 In meetings held with Liberal MPP’s, we were presented with comments that the introduction of HST is uncomfortable politically but necessary from a complicated economic point of view that is difficult for the average consumer to understand. Any marketing professional knows that the key to any sales presentation is the ability to build rapport and connect in a meaningful way with your target audience. My recent experience at Queen’s Park indicates to me that the general intelligence level of those of us who live within the unwashed masses is, by and large, sadly underestimated.

Categories: Real Estate Industry

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