Whether you’re happy about the HST or updating your Twitter status to “I hate Harper,” it’s time to face it: The HST is here. Before July 1, many goods and services were only subject to GST — not PST — such as electricity and heating, home renovations and gasoline. For these goods and services, residents will see an 8% increase to their bills because of the switch to HST. In contrast, because many goods and services are already subject to both GST and PST, such as adult clothing, electronics and furniture, the switch to HST will not make a difference.
Exemptions to the HST are mainly the same goods and services that were exempt from both GST and PST before July 1. This includes basic groceries, municipal water, municipal public transit and GO transit, some international air travel originating in Canada, auto insurance, resale of homes, child care services, legal aid, mortgage interest costs, condo fees, residential rents, most financial services, audiologist, chiropractor and physiotherapist services completed by a registered professional, prescription drugs, pharmacist dispensing fees, some medical devices such as walkers and hearing aids, prescription glasses and contact lenses, dental services, adult incontinence products, driver’s license renewals and vehicle plate renewals (other than personalized license plates), vital documents such as health cards and birth certificates and music lessons.
As of July 1, Ontario’s 8% PST is harmonized with Canada’s 5% GST to create one tax — a 13% HST. In B.C., the provincial and federal taxes will combine to create a 12% HST. In Nova Scotia, where the HST is familiar, residents see their HST increase from 13% to 15%.