HST basic concepts for business

What is the HST?

The HST is a sales tax that applies to most goods and services in Canada. Generally, if you are a GST/HST registrant, you have to charge and collect the sales tax for the government on all taxable supplies (other than zero-rated supplies) you provide to your customers.

Taxable supplies of goods and services

Most property and services supplies in or imported into Canada are subject to GST/HST. Examples of taxable supplies

  • sales of new housing
  • sales and rentals of commercial real property
  • sales and leases of automobiles
  • advertising
  • taxi and limousine transportation
  • legal and accounting services
  • hotel accommodation
  • barber and hairstylist services

Zero-rated supplies of goods and services

You do not collect the GST/HST on these supplies. Examples of taxable supplies

  • basic groceries such as milk, bread, and vegetables
  • agricultural products such as grain, raw wool, and dried tobacco leaves
  • most farm livestock
  • most fishery products such as fish for human consumption
  • certain medical devices such as hearing aids and artificial teeth
  • exports (most goods and services for which you charge and collect the GST/HST in Canada, are zero-rated when exported)
  • many transportation services where the origin or destination is outside Canada

Exempt supplies of goods and services

You do not charge or collect the GST/HST on exempt supplies. You cannot claim ITCs to recover the GST/HST paid for your business expenses. Examples of exempt supplies.

  • a sale of housing that was last used by an individual as a place of residence
  • long-term rentals of residential accommodation (of one month or more) and residential condominium fees
  • most health, medical, and dental services performed by licensed physicians or dentists for medical reasons
  • child care services, where the primary purpose is to provide care and supervision to children 14 years of age or under for periods of less than 24 hours per day
  • legal aid services
  • many educational services
  • music lessons
  • most services provided by financial institutions such as lending money or operating deposit accounts
  • the issuance of insurance policies by an insurer and the arranging for the issuance of insurance policies by insurance agents