Canadian Sales Tax Calculator (GST/PST)
How much does it cost with tax? Now you’ll know. The only tool you need to calculate federal (GST) and provincial (PST) sales tax in every Canadian province and territory.
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What is a Canadian Sales Tax calculator?
There are only two sure things in life: death and taxes. While we don’t know when our time will come, we can predict exactly how much tax we’ll pay on a transaction. Our sales tax calculator uses both the federal and provincial sales tax rates to help you plan for purchases ahead of time.
You can also use our calculator to plan and stay on budget with our after-tax feature. The Hardbacon Sales Tax Calculator can even help you plan for purchases in other provinces. So how does the Sales Tax Calculator work? Let’s take a look.
How to use the Hardbacon Canadian Sales Tax Calculator
It’s super easy to use our calculator. All you have to do is type the numbers in the right spot, and we do the rest. Don’t worry, we’ve labelled everything for you. To get started, we need to know:
- The Canadian province where you will be making your purchase
- The type of sales tax(es) you would like to calculate
- Whether you are using a pre-tax or after-tax amount
- The dollar amount of the purchase price
Pre-tax vs after-tax amounts: why is this important?
If you would like to calculate the taxes on a future purchase, you will enter the original purchase price. Then, in the field labelled “THE AMOUNT BELOW IS,” you will select “Before taxes.” The Sales Tax Calculator will use this information to calculate how much your total will be after the applicable taxes are added. You can avoid surprises by determining the true cost of a transaction ahead of time.
The after-tax amount feature is incredibly useful for those who want to include the cost of sales tax within their spending limits. For example, if you only have $100 to spend at the mall and cannot afford to go over that spending limit, you don’t actually have $100 to spend on goods and services. You must keep the original amount of your bill low enough to account for taxes without going over $100.
In the field labelled “THE AMOUNT ENTERED BELOW IS,” select “After taxes” from the drop-down menu. The Canadian Sales Tax calculator will then determine how much you can spend on goods and services without going over budget once taxes are added.
Once you have all the information you need, you’ll input those numbers on the left side of the calculator. Each field is labelled to take the guesswork out of crunching the numbers. To get started:
- In the field labelled “PROVINCE,” enter the Canadian province where the transaction will take place
- In the field labelled “INCLUDE ALL SALES TAXES?” use the dropdown menu to select “Yes” if you want to calculate both provincial and federal sales tax, or select the specific tax you want to calculate
- In the field labelled “AMOUNT ENTERED BELOW IS,” use the dropdown menu to indicate if the amount you are using is “Before tax” or “After tax.”
- In the field labelled “AMOUNT,” enter the dollar amount of the purchase price
Calculating sales tax: why are there three options?
The Canadian Sales Tax Calculator provides three options for calculating sales tax: goods and services tax (GST), provincial sales tax (PST), or all. Why are there three options? Across Canada, there are certain goods and services that are exempt from GST. That means you do not have to pay the GST on certain things outlined by the Government of Canada, regardless of where you live.
Another reason is that some provinces and territories have chosen not to charge provincial sales tax on specific items. Depending on the province you are in, specific items like books or children’s items are exempt from a provincial sales tax. This feature allows you to accurately calculate sales tax on tax-exempt items in your province.
Understanding the results of the Canadian Sales Tax calculator
After you have finished adding the numbers to the left side of the Hardbacon Sales Tax Calculator, you will find the results on the right side. Here, you will see a complete breakdown of all the elements of your transaction that impact the final, after-tax amount:
Amount before taxes: Based on the information you provided, this is the amount of the transaction you entered. It is the net or subtotal which does not yet include the cost of sales tax.
GST (%): Based on the amount of the transaction you entered, this is the dollar amount of the federal GST sales tax you paid. It also indicates what the sales tax rate is, expressed as a percentage of your transaction amount.
PST (%): Based on the amount of the transaction you entered, and the province where the transaction took place, this is the dollar amount of PST you paid. It also indicates what the sales tax rate is for that province, expressed as a percentage of your transaction amount.
Total sales taxes (%): Based on the amount of the transaction you entered, and the province where it took place, this is the total dollar amount of sales tax you will pay, both GST and PST added together. They are added together and the total amount is expressed as a percentage of your transaction amount.
Amount after taxes: Based on both the amount of the transaction you entered and the province in which it took place, this is the total amount you will pay after the GST and PST are added. It is also known as the after-tax amount.
Learn more about the Canadian Sales Tax calculator inputs
When you buy something, the amount you see on the price tag is not the amount you will actually pay at the checkout. Canadians pay sales tax on almost everything they buy. We say almost because there are some items that are exempt from sales tax charges. There are also different kinds of sales tax, and some rates vary by province. Below is a crash course in everything you need to know about sales tax in Canada. Let’s dig in.
Canadian sales tax by province: why location matters
PST is a consumption tax that is determined by the province or territory where the transaction takes place. PST is a tax we must pay on the goods and services we buy. If you are a resident of Québec, your provincial sales tax is called the Québec sales tax, known as QST. However, the provincial sales tax rate varies from province to province. That is because each province has legislative power to determine whether or not it will impose a sales tax, and if so, at what rate. All provinces must enforce the federal GST, only provincial sales tax is optional.
That’s why the location where the transaction takes place is important; where you are when you make a purchase impacts the total after-tax amount you will pay. Provinces with a higher PST rate, like Québec and the Maritimes, will make your purchase more expensive. While provinces with a lower PST rate means the total after-tax cost of the same item at the same price point is comparatively less expensive.
Goods and Services Tax (GST)
The Goods and Services tax is a federal consumption tax. That means it applies to most goods and services we buy in Canada. Think of it this way, in the Canadian economy there are producers and consumers. Producers sell stuff, and consumers buy stuff. Therefore, we must pay a tax on the things we consume; the stuff we buy. GST is imposed by the Canadian federal government and used to help cover the cost of running the country. Merchants are responsible for collecting GST at the point of sale and remitting those funds back to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
Because it is a federal tax, it is applied consistently across Canada on all non-exempt goods and services, regardless of which province or territory you are in when you make your purchase. Currently, the GST rate is 5%. What does that mean? Let’s take a look at an example:
Heidi lives in Manitoba and would like to buy a new SmartTV. According to the Shopping feature on her Google search bar, Costco has the best deal in town for $1,498.00. But when Heidi gets to the checkout counter, the cashier tells her she must pay $1,572.90. Why? Because of the GST. The math goes like this:
- Purchase price x sales tax rate = dollar amount of tax
- Dollar amount of tax + purchase price = after-tax Total
|After tax total||$1,572.90|
When Heidi buys the SmartTV from Costco, she is required to pay the GST on her transaction. It is calculated as 5% of the original purchase price, then added to the bill. That brings the total amount of her transaction up to $1,572.90. Because GST is a federal sales tax, the tax rate of 5% is the same in every province and territory across Canada.
When Heidi drives to Ontario to visit family, she finds the same TV at Walmart for a better price than Costco back in Manitoba. Naturally, her final bill will be lower because the price of the TV is lower. However, the same 5% GST rate applies in Ontario just as it does in Manitoba; she must pay 5% of the cost of her transaction to GST no matter what province or territory she is in.
Provincial sales tax (PST)
Each province has its own unique financial needs and obligations. Therefore, provinces and territories decide for themselves how much sales tax they need to collect in order to finance their obligations and deliver essential services to their population.
For example, the Maritimes have the highest rate of provincial sales tax in Canada at 10% in each province. This is in large part due to their declining labour supply, increasing healthcare costs, modest economies, and outstanding debt. Meanwhile, Alberta does not charge any provincial sales tax. That is in large part because of a historically robust oil and gas sector; Alberta’s largest industry. Alberta also has a larger labour market and less debt.
Because provincial sales tax is imposed by provinces and territories, rather than the federal government, the tax rate varies depending on where the transaction takes place. That means if Heidi wants to buy a SmartTV, and it is the exact same price in both Manitoba and New Brunswick, it will cost her more to buy it in New Brunswick. Why? Because the PST rate is 10% in New Brunswick but only 7% in Manitoba. Let’s take a look at the math:
Comparing provincial sales tax rates: New Brunswick vs Manitoba
|After tax total||$1,648||$1,603|
What is the total sales tax in Canada?
Total sales tax is exactly what it sounds like. It is the sum total of both the goods and services tax (GST) as well as the provincial sales tax (PST) added to your bill when you make a purchase. It is the total dollar amount you paid in applicable taxes. It is also expressed as a percentage of the original purchase price.
In Canada, only one province and two territories do not charge any provincial sales tax. The rest of Canada must pay both GST and PST on the majority of their purchases. Those taxes add up fast and can really impact your budget if you’re not careful. Let’s take a look using our previous example of Heidi and her SmartTV.
Heidi bought a new SmartTV at Costco in Manitoba. The TV was priced at $1,498. The GST is 5%. The Manitoba PST is 7%. How much total tax did she pay?
|GST Tax Rate||5%|
|PST Tax Rate||7%|
|Total Tax (%)||12%|
|Total Tax ($)||$179.96|
|After Tax Total||$1,678|
Heidi is so happy with her new SmartTV, she calls her best friend, Deborah, in New Brunswick to tell her all about it. Deborah also needs a new TV and is impressed with Heidi’s review. She decides to buy the same one. At Deborah’s local Costco, the exact same SmartTV is listed at the same price of $1,498. How much will it cost Deborah to buy the same TV at the same price in New Brunswick? Let’s take a look.
|GST Tax Rate||5%|
|PST Tax Rate||10%|
|Total Tax (%)||15%|
|Total Tax ($)||$224.70|
|After Tax Total||$1,723|
As you can see from the example, even though the TV was priced the same in both provinces, the higher PST rate in New Brunswick cost Deborah an extra $45 in taxes. That made her purchase of the same item at the same price comparatively more expensive than Heidi’s purchase.
Total sales tax vs harmonized sales tax: what’s the difference?
Don’t worry, the harmonized sales tax (HST) is not a third consumption tax you need to pay. In Canada, some provinces have combined both the GST and PST into one tax rate, called the harmonized sales tax. That sounds just like the total sales tax, so what’s the difference?
Total sales tax is not a tax rate. It is just the sum total of all the sales tax you paid for a transaction. It is different from the individual sales tax rates for both the GST and PST. It is simply a calculation to see how much of the final total you must pay is attributable to tax, and how much is the original purchase price of the good.
In Canada, some provinces have adopted the harmonized sales tax model. That means that they have combined their GST with their PST to create one sales tax at a higher rate, called the HST. Think of it like bundling two services, like your cable and internet service, into one bill. They are two different products with two different costs but collected as a singular price.
If you buy a good or service from a province that does not use HST, your receipt will show two itemized tax lines: one labelled GST, and the other labelled PST. Each will line shows the respective tax rate and the dollar value added to your bill. But if you buy a good or service in a province that uses HST, there will only be one itemized tax line on your receipt called HST, which will show only one tax rate and dollar amount of tax added to the bill.
With HST, merchants collect one tax and remit it to the Canada Revenue Agency. Once received, the CRA keeps the GST, the federal tax portion of the HST, and sends the provincial sales tax portion of the HST back to its respective province. That seems a little complicated. Why not just let merchants collect the taxes separately and remit only the GST to the CRA?
Collecting, recording, and remitting sales tax to the provincial and federal governments is tedious and expensive for merchants. In an attempt to make the process easier and less expensive, the Canadian Government proposed a nationwide harmonized sales tax. Doing so would shift the administrative burden to the Canadian Revenue Agency. The hope was that the new HST would reduce bookkeeping costs for businesses, who would then pass the savings onto consumers.
Currently, Canada does not have a cohesive, nationwide HST. That’s because the Government of Canada made the HST optional for the provinces. Currently, only five Canadian provinces have chosen to adopt the HST. Those provinces are:
- Nova Scotia
- New Brunswick
- Prince Edward Island
The remaining provinces and territories have either chosen to keep the provincial and federal sales taxes separate, or do not charge a provincial sales tax at all.
What if I purchase something in another province?
When it comes to purchasing goods and services in other provinces, the sales tax can get a little complicated, mostly for merchants. If you are in the same province as the merchant, you will pay that province or territory’s sales tax rate. However, if you are in one province, and purchase a good or service from a merchant in another province, you will pay the sales tax rate of the province or territory where the service will be carried out, or where the product will end up. Here is an example:
Heidi lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba and wants to buy a new SmartTV. She drives to her local Costco, just a few minutes down the street. She buys the TV and takes it home. In this scenario, Heidi will be charged the Manitoba PST rate of 7%.
When Heidi gets home, she finds the same TV online at a store in Alberta for less than what she paid at her local Winnipeg store. Alberta does not have a provincial sales tax. However, Heidi cannot take advantage of this. If she buys the same TV online at the Alberta store and has it shipped to her home address in Manitoba, she must still pay the Manitoba PST rate of 7%.
As a consumer, you do not have to worry about applying the appropriate PST rate when you shop online. It is the responsibility of the merchant to use the correct tax rate based on the consumer’s location, or destination address of the goods. However, there is a unique exception to this rule. If you purchase a car out of province, you are required to pay the PST rate of your home province. Purchasing a vehicle out of province and driving it home requires special paperwork. You can visit the Government of Canada website for more information on motor vehicles and sales tax.
The product-destination rule applies mostly to online sales. If you are a tourist, visiting family in another province, or simply passing through, you can make in-person purchases in other provinces without worrying about the sales tax implications. That means if Heidi is visiting friends in Alberta, or just driving through on her way to British Columbia, any purchases she makes in Alberta will only be subject to applicable sales taxes in Alberta. The same goes for any purchases she makes in British Columbia while she is there. If she stops at a Costco in Alberta and buys a new TV, she will not have to pay any provincial sales tax. She can sleep soundly at night knowing she is not breaking any tax laws.
Canadian sales tax: are there exemptions?
With all this talk of sales taxes, you’re probably thinking “Wow, Canada sounds really expensive.” Luckily, not everything you buy in Canada is subject to sales tax. One province and three territories do not charge any provincial sales tax at all. They are:
- Northwest Territories
Better yet, certain goods and services are exempt from federal GST, which is applicable across the country regardless of the province you’re in. What’s exempt from GST in Canada? Let’s take a look:
- Grocery staples like bread, milk, and produce
- Childcare like daycare fees or before/after programs
- Education costs like tuition
- Most healthcare services, like dental or medical
- Most medical devices such as hearing aids, prescription eyeglasses, or dentures
- Prescription medications and dispensing fees
- Residential rent, including university dorms and boarding schools
- Local public transportation such as city busses or ferries
- Most day-to-day banking services
- Legal aid services
What other sales tax exemptions are there?
If you are a parent living in Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, or Prince Edward Island, I have good news for you. These four provinces offer special tax exemptions for qualified children’s items. If you are a resident of Québec, there are even more tax-exempt goods available to you.
|Québec||Ontario||Nova Scotia||Prince Edward Island|
Kids are expensive. A tax break on children’s items can help Canadian parents afford the essentials. However, conditions apply. For more information on qualifying children’s items eligible for tax exemption, visit the Government of Canada website.
If you are a resident of Québec, there are additional goods and services exempt from QST. For more information on tax-exempt items in Quebec visit the Revenu Québec website.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to calculate Canadian sales tax
To calculate Canadian sales tax, first, you need to know both the federal goods and services tax (GST) rate, which is 5%. Then, you need to know if your province has a provincial sales tax (PST), and if it does, what is the rate. If you are a resident of Québec your provincial sales tax is called QST. To find your provincial sales tax rate, refer to our chart of sales tax rates by province or territory, located under the Canadian Sales Tax Calculator. If you would like to calculate sales tax yourself, you can use the following formula. Always convert the sales tax rate from a percentage to a decimal before plugging it into the formula. For example, if the sales tax rate is 5%, divide it by 100, and use 0.05 in your equation.
Purchase price x sales tax rate = amount of sales tax