Tax Exemptions

In some cases Provincial Sales Tax (PST) doesn't need to be paid on purchases or leases. The following exemptions are available to everyone and don't require any documentation:

  • food for human consumption (e.g. basic groceries and prepared food such as restaurant meals)
  • books, newspapers and magazines
  • children-sized clothing
  • bicycles
  • prescription medications and household medical aids such as cough syrup and pain medications

Other exemptions are available in certain circumstances and may require documentation. These include exemptions for:

For a more complete list of exemptions refer to the PST Exemptions and Documentation Requirements bulletin (PST 200) (PDF).

How to Provide an Exemption

As a business, when you provide an exemption to a customer you may need to request information or documentation. For information about what exemptions require information or documentation, refer to the PST Exemptions and Documentation Requirements bulletin (PST 200) (PDF).

It's the customer's responsibility to ensure they qualify for an exemption. If the customer claims an exemption that they don't qualify for they are liable for any tax, interest and penalties associated with the purchase or lease. However, if you had reason to believe your customer wasn't entitled to the exemption and provided the exemption, you may also be subject to an assessment.

If your customer isn't able to provide the required information or documentation before the time of the sale or lease you must charge and collect PST. However, if the customer is able to provide the required information or documentation within 180 days of the purchase or lease, your business may refund or credit the PST charged.

Records

When you provide an exemption to a customer you must keep specific information in your records to show why you didn't charge PST. If you don't do this, you can be assessed for the tax that should have been collected, plus penalties and interest.

Non-Taxable Sales & Services

Some goods and services aren't taxed under PST, such as:

  • sales and rentals of real property (e.g. house, commercial property)
  • public and private campsites
  • admissions and memberships
  • professional services (other than legal services)
  • transportation fares (e.g. bus, train, ferry, airline)

PST Exemption Certificates

Many exemption certificates are available for qualifying purchasers such as for farmerscontractors  and commercial fishers.

Verify a PST Number

You can verify a PST number to confirm a business is registered for PST when they request an exemption.

This service is free and optional. You aren't required to verify a customer's PST number.

To verify a PST number, you need your customer's:

  • PST Number
  • Business Number

Useful Contacts

Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm.

Phone: 1-877-388-4440
(toll free within Canada)

Email: CTBTaxQuestions@gov.bc.ca