N.S. Premier calls for unified HST rate in Atlantic provinces

It was dreaded by some and revered by others: the HST, a tax that blended the provincial and federal sales taxes. And now, four years after it was introduced in P.E.I.'s 2012 budget, there's a proposal to raise it from its current 14 per cent.

'The HST in my view is the fairest tax in the province and region as long as it's common'

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil wants all the Atlantic provinces to have a common HST at 15 per cent. (CBC)

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

Four years after it was introduced in P.E.I.'s 2012 budget, the rate stands at 14 per cent in this province.

"I've said all along, I believe we should have a common HST in Atlantic Canada. I believe it should be 15 per cent," McNeil told reporters Wednesday. 

"The HST in my view is the fairest tax in the province and region as long as it's common," he said.

McNeil made the pitch to his Atlantic colleagues, but said he didn't get unanimous endorsement.

"Our neighbouring provinces have challenges with revenue," he said. 

"This is an opportunity for them not only, I believe, to adjust that, but also deal with what I believe is the right thing for their citizens and for the business community to have some uniformity in and around the HST," McNeil said.

He says the individual provinces could then figure out ways to target tax breaks to those who most need them by changing personal income taxes.

'More appropriate' at 15%

The HST stands at 13 per cent in both New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador. 

McNeil said he wouldn't considering lowering the HST in Nova Scotia to create a common Atlantic tax.

"I think it would be more appropriate for them to come to 15," he said.   

P.E.I. finance officials told CBC News the government is currently consulting with Islanders on what should be in the 2016 –17 budget, and it would not be fair to speculate before that process is complete.

With files from Angela Walker


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