Provincial Sales Taxes in Canada (PST/RST)

And Which Provinces Charge PST and How Much Tax They Charge

Selling Goods
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Definition:

The Provincial Sales Tax, commonly referred to as PST, is a a provincial tax imposed on the consumers of most goods and particular services in some provinces.

Which Provinces/Territories Charge PST?

Several provinces in Canada have agreed to integrate their provincial sales taxes with the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) and now charge a single Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Ontario implemented HST in 2010, joining Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland & Labrador where HST had already been in effect for some time.

The province of British Columbia briefly implemented the HST but returned to a PST regime after rejection of the HST in a provincial referendum.

Four provinces currently have provincial sales tax. The provincial sales tax rates and names are:

Alberta, Yukon, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories have no provincial sales taxes and charge GST only.

Besides having different PST rates generally, provincial sales taxes may vary within provinces depending on what product or service is being taxed. For example, in BC, while the usual provincial sales tax is 7 percent, you will be charged 12 percent when you purchase a vehicle from a private individual and 10 percent when you purchase alcohol.

Do I Have to Register for and Charge PST/RST/QST?

As an operator of a business in any of the provinces that has PST, it's your responsibility to charge, collect and remit provincial sales tax on applicable goods and services.

Unlike GST/HST, there is no Small Supplier exception for provincial sales tax (except for in BC; see Does Your Business Need to Register for BC PST? for details).

For more information on PST, see:

Exceptions for Exempt and Zero-Rated Goods and Services

Some goods and services are exempt or zero-rated, which means that you do not charge PST/RST/QST on the customer invoice.

From the perspective of the business owner, the difference between exempt and zero-rated goods and services is that for zero-rated goods and services you can claim Input Tax Credits (ITCs) to recover the PST/RST/QST you paid or owe on your business purchases and/or expenses. What qualifies as PST/RST/QST exempt or zero-rated may vary between provinces, however. See the following government documents for further details:

Examples of PST Exempt items from the Government of BC website:

  • food for human consumption (e.g. basic groceries and prepared food such as restaurant meals)
  • books, newspapers and magazines
  • children-sized clothing
  • bicycles
  • prescription medications and household medical aids such as cough syrup and pain medications
  • health and medical products, and equipment for persons with disabilities *
  • adult-sized clothing and footwear for kids under 15 years of age *
  • school supplies for students *
  • safety equipment and protective clothing *
  • farming, fertilizers, fishing and aquaculture *
  • purchases by First Nations individuals and bands on reserve land *
  • goods purchased for resale or lease *

*Available in certain circumstances and may require documentation. 

Examples of QST Zero-rated services and supplies from the Revenu Quebec website:

  • sales of prescription drugs
  • sales of certain medical devices
  • sales of basic groceries
  • sales of certain property used in the farming and fishing sectors
  • sales of certain goods or services exported outside Canada (or outside Québec, for QST purposes) 
  • the provision of certain passenger or freight transportation services
  • sales of printed books that have an International Standard Book Number (ISBN), under the QST system only

 

For GST/HST information, see Answers to Common GST/HST Questions and/or All About GST/HST for Canadian Small Businesses.

Also Known As: RST (Retail Sales Tax). QST (Quebec Sales Tax).

Examples: In Quebec PST (Provincial Sales Tax), is called QST (Quebec Sales Tax).

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