N.S. budget – Premier Dexter announces proposed HST cut night before budget tabled

HALIFAX – With less than 24 hours to go before tabling its 2012-2013 budget, the Nova Scotia government has announced it plans to cut the harmonized sales tax by two per cent by 2015.

In a statement released late Monday evening, the NDP-led government of Darrell Dexter said it would introduce legislation to drop the HST from 15 per cent to 13 per cent. 

“Nova Scotians shared the challenge of getting our province back to balance, and they will also share the direct and indirect benefits of a balanced budget,” Dexter said in the House of Assembly. “This government is reducing the HST when the province can afford to take that step without creating a deficit and adding unnecessary debt.” 

The decrease would start with one per cent drop in 2014, followed by another one per cent reduction in 2015.  

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Dexter says it’s a “responsible and disciplined approach to making life more affordable for Nova Scotian families.”   

Finance Minister Graham Steele said last month the province’s next budget would also include a “modest” tax cut.  

Steele made the announcement Mar. 20 in a pre-budget speech to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, at which time he said N.S. had once again beat its budget predictions and would have a much smaller deficit than originally forecast.  

“At budget time last year, we forecast a deficit of $390 million,” Steele said. “We’re now forecasting a deficit of $261 million. That means we beat the budget by $129 million.” 

The budget will be tabled Tuesday afternoon.