Many would prefer to see higher rates of taxation to a GST, survey finds
Half of the opponents of the controversial goods and services tax (GST) would accept an increase in the top salaries tax rate as an alternative measure to broaden the tax base, a survey has found.
Some of the opponents are also receptive to other tax rises, such as the introduction of progressive profits tax (43 per cent), increasing profits tax (37 per cent) and a capital gains tax (35 per cent).
The results of the survey, by polling agency TNS, came just before a Legislative Council motion debate to oppose the GST.
The survey found two-thirds of the respondents disagreed with the proposed levy. Only seven per cent unreservedly supported it and 27 per cent said they would lend their support with certain modifications.
The survey was conducted between September 28 and October 2 and interviewed 1,001 people on the company's online access panel. The results had a 3 per cent margin of error and a 95 per cent confidence level.
TNS project director Nick Hunter said the survey pointed the way to a reform of the tax structure in the commercial sector.
'In addition to increasing tax revenue by increasing salaries tax rates for higher earners, reform of the tax structure in the commercial sector is also seen as key to broadening the tax base, which is one of the critical objectives of any tax reform measures,' he said.
Following the unveiling on Monday of proposals to raise public support for the GST, Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen has called on lawmakers to show courage by pledging support for the levy.
In an article published in the Chinese-language press today, Mr Tang writes: 'Instead of merely reflecting public opinion, you [lawmakers] should, on behalf of the people, have the long-term and broader interests of society in mind when deliberating on matters of importance to Hong Kong's future.'
Yesterday, the Democratic Party also released a survey on GST, which found 69 per cent of 758 respondents were opposed to the levy. Forty-five per cent said the consultation on GST should be terminated if the motion debate lodged by Democrat Yeung Sum was endorsed by Legco. Forty per cent of respondents said the consultation should continue despite the expected passage of the motion debate.
The Democrats, the Liberal Party and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong yesterday all pledged to continue opposing a GST.