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Harmonized Sales Tax (HST)


The Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is a value-added tax applied in certain Canadian provinces that combines federal and provincial sales tax into a single, unified tax. It streamlines taxation by reducing administrative costs and simplifying compliance for businesses. HST is charged on the sale of goods and services, aiming to collect tax revenue for both the federal and provincial governments.


The phonetics for the keyword “Harmonized Sales Tax (HST)” can be represented as:/ˈhɑrmənaɪzd ˈseɪlz ˈtæks (ˌeɪʧ ˌɛs ˈti)/

Key Takeaways

  1. Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is a combined tax that merges the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) with the provincial sales tax in participating provinces in Canada.
  2. Currently, five provinces participate in the HST: Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Prince Edward Island. The HST rate differs from province to province, depending on their provincial sales tax rates.
  3. HST is imposed on most goods and services but comes with certain exemptions such as basic groceries, prescription drugs, child care services, and residential rent, ensuring that essentials are more affordable for consumers.


The Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is an important business/finance term as it represents a combined tax structure applied to goods and services, which streamlines and simplifies tax collection for both businesses and consumers. The HST merges federal and provincial taxes into a single tax rate, thereby reducing administrative costs and complexity for businesses operating in multiple jurisdictions. This unified approach encourages economic growth, creating a more competitive environment, and allows for greater transparency in taxes paid by consumers. Furthermore, it reduces the burden of compliance for small and medium enterprises, enabling them to be more efficient and productive. Ultimately, HST plays a crucial role in the smooth functioning of businesses and the overall efficiency of the tax system, directly impacting a region’s economic health.


The purpose of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is to simplify the tax system, reduce administrative costs, and improve the overall efficiency of collecting and managing sales taxes for businesses and consumers in Canada. By combining the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the provincial sales tax into a single tax, HST streamlines the process of collecting taxes on goods and services, reducing the burden for businesses and providing them with easier compliance. This system benefits both businesses and consumers by allowing companies to focus on other aspects of their operations or pass the savings on to the customers. HST is primarily used to regulate the flow of funds between businesses and the government, creating an environment where businesses are well supported and consumers are fairly charged. A portion of the HST collected from sales goes to the federal government, while the rest is allocated to the respective provincial governments. This redistribution of tax revenue not only allows provinces to have a more significant share in the sales tax, but also ensures a more equitable distribution of revenues, supporting essential governmental programs and services. Overall, the introduction of the HST aims to create a friendlier economic climate for businesses and consumers alike and promote economic growth throughout the country.


Example 1: CanadaThe Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) in Canada is a prime example of a real-world implementation of this tax system. HST combines the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) into a single tax for certain provinces. For instance, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick all use HST in their tax system. This integration of taxes simplifies calculations and reduces the administrative burden on businesses. Example 2: European Union Value Added Tax (VAT)Even though it’s not called HST, the European Union’s Value Added Tax (VAT) system is similar in concept. The VAT system harmonizes the tax rates among EU member states, creating a cohesive market environment. Under this system, a single tax is applied to goods and services, making trade between EU countries more efficient and eliminating the need for businesses to go through complex and time-consuming cross-border procedures .Example 3: India’s Goods and Services Tax (GST)India implemented the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in July 2017, which combines numerous central and state taxes into a single tax structure. Similar to the HST, India’s GST is designed to streamline tax administration, prevent tax evasion, and create a simplified taxation system for businesses operating within the country or across state borders.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST)?
The Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is a consumption tax in Canada that combines the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) into a single tax. It is applicable to most goods and services and is collected at the point of sale.
Which provinces use the HST?
The HST is used in the following Canadian provinces: New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Prince Edward Island. The remaining provinces either use a combination of GST and PST or have their own unique tax system.
What is the current HST rate?
The HST rate varies by province. As of July 2021, the rates are as follows:- New Brunswick: 15%- Newfoundland and Labrador: 15%- Nova Scotia: 15%- Ontario: 13%- Prince Edward Island: 15%Please note that these rates may change over time.
Are there any exemptions from the HST?
Yes, certain goods and services are exempt from the HST, including basic groceries, prescription drugs, medical devices, child care services, and residential rent. However, the list of exemptions may vary slightly depending on the provincial regulations.
How does HST affect businesses?
Businesses operating in provinces that use the HST must register for, collect, and remit the tax to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on applicable sales. Businesses can claim Input Tax Credits (ITCs) for the HST paid on eligible business expenses, which helps to offset the tax collected and remitted.
How do I register for HST?
Most businesses with annual taxable sales over $30,000 must register for HST. You can register online through the CRA’s My Business Account or by filling out Form RC1, Request for a Business Number. Once registered, you will receive a Business Number (BN) that will be used for HST purposes.
How often do I need to file HST returns?
The frequency of filing HST returns depends on your business’s annual taxable sales. Generally, businesses with annual taxable sales under $1.5 million file yearly returns; between $1.5 million and $6 million file quarterly returns; and over $6 million file monthly returns. The CRA will inform you of your filing frequency when you register for HST.
How do I calculate the HST owed on a sale?
To calculate the HST owed, multiply the applicable HST rate by the selling price of the goods or services. For example, if you sell an item for $100 in Ontario with a 13% HST rate, the HST owed would be $13 ($100 x 0.13). The total price to the customer, including HST, would be $113.
Can I claim a refund for overpaid HST?
Yes, if you have overpaid HST, you can claim a refund by filing an adjustment or rebate request with the CRA. The method and process for claiming a refund depend on the reason for the overpayment and your filing history.

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