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Charging Sales Taxes on Online Sales in Canada

Part 2: What Sales Tax to Charge Province by Province

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Online Sales in Canada: Which Taxes Do You Collect for Each Province?

As an online retailer accepting and shipping orders across Canada, the list of taxes you should be collecting and remitting on your online sales currently looks like this:

  • BC - GST 5% and 7% PST (This came into effect April 1, 2013: see Does Your Business Need to Register for BC PST? for more information.)
  • Alberta - GST 5%
  • Saskatchewan - GST 5% and PST 5% voluntarily (unless is home province)
  • Manitoba - GST 5% and PST 7%
  • Ontario - HST - 13%
  • Quebec - GST 5% and QST (Quebec Sales Tax) 9.975% (Note that as of January 1, 2013, the QST is no longer be charged on GST.)
  • New Brunswick - HST 13%
  • Nova Scotia - HST 15%
  • Newfoundland & Labrador - HST 13%
  • Prince Edward Island - HST 14% (note this came into effect April 1, 2013).
  • Northwest Territories - GST 5%
  • Nunavut - GST 5%
  • Yukon - GST 5%

(*In your home province, registration for PST/RST is mandatory if you are selling taxable goods and/or services.)

This means that you should register as a Provincial Sales Tax Vendor with each of the provinces you will be doing business with and will be expected to collect and remit the sales tax accordingly.

Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and Out-of-Province-Vendors by Province

Here's what the provinces that have provincial sales tax have to say about online sales.

BC

See Does Your Business Need to Register for BC PST?

Manitoba

Provincial Sales Tax is called Retail Sales Tax (RST) in Manitoba.

Out-of-province businesses that sell/lease taxable goods to Manitoba purchasers are required to be registered as a vendor under the Act and to collect the RST if all of the following circumstances exist:

"1) The seller solicits the order for the sale in Manitoba, directly or through an agent, by advertising or any other means, e.g. in person, by telephone, mail, e-mail, fax, posters, television or newspaper advertisement targeted towards Manitoba customers,

2) The seller accepts orders originating in Manitoba to purchase tangible personal property. The order can be originated by telephone, Internet, e-mail, fax, letter or any other means from a location in Manitoba to the seller or agent located in or out of Manitoba,

3) The goods are acquired for consumption or use in Manitoba, i.e. not for resale, and

4) The seller causes the goods to be delivered in Manitoba, i.e., delivered by the seller, or shipped by the seller by common carrier, whether or not the goods are shipped at a specified cost to the customer" (RST Bulletin 004: Information for Vendors).

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan also takes a hard line view on online sales. The answer to the question, "I am a non-resident vendor making sales into the Province. Do I have to collect tax on my sales?" is:

"All persons making taxable sales in Saskatchewan should become licensed and collect the tax. Non-resident businesses should consider becoming licensed as a convenience to their customers. If non-resident businesses don't collect PST at the time of sale, their customers are required to self assess and remit the tax" (Saskatchewan Finance Provincial Sales Tax Common Questions).

Quebec

The government of Quebec appears to assume that out-of-province vendors will register and collect and remit sales tax and that includes people making online sales. There is a reference in the Quebec Retail Sales Act to out-of-province businesses registering before selling taxable goods to Quebec residents (and once again, if the vendor has not collected the Quebec Sales Tax, purchasers are expected to report and remit the tax).

Isn't That a Lot of Extra Paperwork?

Yes it is. And there’s not much you can do to get around all this additional paperwork and bookkeeping related to your online sales? Some Canadian-based online businesses limit the areas they ship to. An Ontario based business, for instance, might only accept orders from and ship to customers in Ontario. Others only sell non-taxable goods and/or services.

The online sales picture is further complicated by the fact that goods and/or services that may be tax-exempt in one province may be treated differently in another. So take all the information above as a guide only and be sure to check with the Finance/Revenue Ministries of the individual provinces to ascertain whether or not you have to collect and remit provincial tax when you are shipping to customers who reside there. There are links to these in the Provincial Sales Tax section of this website. When it comes to taxes, you can't afford to be wrong.

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