Harmonized Sales Tax (HST)

The Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is a consumption tax in Canada that combines the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) with the provincial sales tax (PST) into a single, unified tax. It is designed to streamline the sales tax system and simplify compliance for businesses and consumers.

Understanding the HST

The HST is applied to most goods and services purchased in participating provinces. The tax rate varies by province, as it combines the 5% GST with a provincial portion, which can range from 8% to 10%. The total HST rate can therefore be as high as 15%.

Canadian Provinces and the HST

As of now, the provinces that have adopted the HST include:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island

These provinces replaced their separate GST and PST with the HST to create a more efficient tax system.

Registering and Collecting the HST

Businesses operating in HST provinces must register for an HST account with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). They are required to collect HST on taxable supplies and remit the collected tax to the CRA. Businesses must file regular HST returns, detailing the amount of tax collected and any input tax credits (ITCs) claimed for HST paid on business expenses.

Exempted Goods and Services

Certain goods and services are exempt from the HST, including:

  • Basic groceries
  • Prescription medications
  • Medical devices
  • Certain financial services
  • Residential rent

These exemptions help reduce the tax burden on essential items and services.

The HST’s Effect on Taxpayers

For consumers, the HST means paying a single sales tax on most purchases. While the HST can result in higher overall taxes on some goods and services, it simplifies the tax system and can reduce costs for businesses. This, in turn, can lead to lower prices for consumers due to the reduction in administrative costs for businesses.

How does Canada’s Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) work?

The HST works by combining the federal GST with a provincial portion, creating a single sales tax that is collected and administered by the CRA. Businesses collect HST on sales, remit it to the CRA, and can claim ITCs for the HST paid on business expenses. This system simplifies tax collection and compliance for businesses operating in multiple provinces.

What is the purpose of the HST?

The purpose of the HST is to streamline the sales tax system, making it easier for businesses to comply with tax laws and reducing administrative costs. By combining the GST and PST into a single tax, the HST simplifies tax collection, reduces duplication, and can improve economic efficiency.

Does the United States have an HST?

No, the United States does not have a harmonized sales tax. Instead, the U.S. has a complex system of sales taxes that vary by state, county, and city. Each jurisdiction sets its own tax rates and rules, leading to a fragmented and often confusing tax system for businesses and consumers.


The Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) in Canada simplifies the sales tax system by combining federal and provincial taxes into a single, unified tax. While it can lead to higher taxes on some goods and services, it reduces administrative costs for businesses and makes tax compliance easier. Understanding how the HST works and its impact on different goods and services can help businesses and consumers navigate the tax system more effectively.


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