For visitors to Canada, getting the check at the end of a meal or signing off on your hotel bill can be a quite a shock, especially for Americans.
You see, Canada adds at least one sales tax onto purchases made here and in some provinces two taxes that can add as much as 15% added to your total bill.
Nationwide, there is a goods and services tax (GST) of 5%, so no matter where you are in Canada, expect 5% to be added to just about everything you buy (except groceries - so you pay the tax on restaurant food, but not at a grocery store - municipal transit and a few other things).
Of the 10 provinces and three territories in Canada, four have no other tax besides the GST: Alberta, Nunavut, Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories.
Alberta: 5% total sales tax
Nunavut: 5% total sales tax
Yukon Territory: 5% total sales tax
Northwest Territories: 5% total sales tax
Four provinces have a harmonized sales tax (HST), which means its GST has been merged with a provincial sales tax. The HST is added on to the same goods and services that the GST is and appears as one tax on your restaurant, hotel and store bills:
New Brunswick: 5% + 8% = 13% total sales tax,
Newfoundland and Labrador: 5% + 8% = 13% total sales tax,
Nova Scotia: 5% + 10% = 15% total sales tax,
Ontario: 5% + 8% = 13% total sales tax, and
PEI: 5% + 9% = 14% total sales tax
The remaining provinces all have a separate provincial sales tax (PST) that shows up independent from the GST on all your bills and applies to different items depending on the province: British Columbia (7%), Saskatchewan (5%), Manitoba (8%), Quebec (9.975%).
British Columbia: 5% + 7% = 12% total sales tax
Saskatchewan: 5% + 5% = 10% total sales tax
Manitoba: 5% + 8% = 13% total sales tax
Quebec: 5% + 9.975% = 15%
Canada does not have a value added tax rebate (VAT) for goods purchased in Canada. It was eliminated in 2007.
At a glance, here are the top 10 cities in Canada to visit and the tax you will pay in those cities:
- Toronto, Ontario: 13% HST
- Vancouver, British Columbia: 5% GST + 7% PST
- Montreal, Quebec: 5% GST + 9.975% PST
- Niagara Falls, Ontario: 13% HST
- Quebec City, Quebec: 5% GST + 9.975% PST
- Victoria, British Columbia: 5% GST + 7% PST
- Calgary, Alberta: 5% GST
- Ottawa, Ontario: 13% HST
- Edmonton, Alberta: 5% GST
- Halifax, Nova Scotia: 15% HST