Navigating the HST Maze: Understanding HST Implications for NPOs and Charities in Canada 0

Posted On July 6, 2023, by Jennifer L Nixon

Understanding tax obligations can often seem like navigating a complex maze, especially for non-profit organizations (NPOs) and charities in Canada. At GBA LLP, we strive to provide clear, understandable  guidance for these organizations, shedding light on these complexities.

One frequently misunderstood area is the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). How does HST apply to NPOs and charities? Are there any exemptions or rebates available? Let’s delve into these questions.

1. General Rule: HST Applies

The general rule is that HST applies to all goods and services supplied in participating provinces. For NPOs and charities, this means that HST will generally apply to any taxable supplies (goods or services) they sell. However, many goods and services provided by NPOs and charities are exempt under the Excise Tax Act, which means that these organizations would not charge HST on these supplies.

2. Special HST Rules for NPOs and Charities

The Excise Tax Act contains special provisions for NPOs and charities, recognizing the unique nature of these organizations. For instance, many supplies made by charities and certain NPOs are exempt from HST, including most sales of donated goods and certain educational, health, and training services.

3. HST Paid by NPOs and Charities

While NPOs and charities may not always charge HST, they often pay HST when purchasing goods or services for their operations. However, there are special HST rebates available to help these organizations recover some of these costs.

4. HST Rebates for NPOs and Charities

Public service bodies, including many NPOs and charities, can claim rebates for a portion of the HST they pay on eligible purchases. The rebate rates and eligibility criteria vary depending on the type of organization and the province in which it operates.

5. Importance of Accurate Record-Keeping

Accurate record-keeping is crucial for managing HST obligations. NPOs and charities need to track their taxable supplies and HST paid to ensure compliance and to claim available rebates.

6. Seeking Professional Advice

Given the complexity of HST rules and their potential impact on NPOs and charities, these organizations should consider seeking professional advice. An expert can help determine which supplies are taxable, whether any exemptions apply, and how to claim available rebates.

Decoding the HST rules for NPOs and charities can be challenging, but it’s a vital part of ensuring your organization’s financial health and compliance. Understanding your HST obligations can help your organization plan more effectively and potentially recover some of the tax costs associated with your operations.

Remember, our team at is here to assist and provide practical advice tailored to the needs of your NPO or charity. Stay tuned for more informative pieces in our educational series, designed to help you navigate the complexities of your non-profit journey.


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This blog is not meant to provide specific advice or opinions regarding the topic(s) discussed above. Should you have a question about your specific situation, please discuss it with your GBA advisor.

GBA LLP is a full-service accounting firm in the Greater Toronto Area, but we primarily service all of Ontario as well as the rest of Canada virtually, except Quebec. Our team of over 30, provides Audits and Reviews of financial statements, and Compilations of financial information, as well as corporate tax returns.  We provide specialized corporate tax and succession planning for small and medium businesses, in addition to general advisory services.

If you would like to schedule a call to discuss your accounting or tax needs with one of our team members, please complete the free no obligation meeting request on this page.

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