QUESTION: Does Canada's new general service tax go on top of the provincial tax? Are visitors to Canada required to pay it?
ANSWER: A 7 percent tax on all merchandise, services and accommodations went into effect in Canada on Jan. 1. The tax replaced a 13.5 percent tax on manufactured goods.
Tourists are entitled to a rebate of the tax on goods taken out of the country within 60 days of when they were bought and on accommodations of less than 30 days at each location.
The tax on goods or services consumed or used in Canada, like meals, dry cleaning or theater tickets, is not refunded, nor is it refunded for alcoholic beverages or tobacco products. Reimbursement forms are available at duty-free shops in airports and at border crossings.
Rebates are available in Canadian dollars on the spot for up to $500 Canadian expenditure for each day, or in a check in U.S. dollars if the forms are mailed in.
Original receipts, which will be returned, must be included. Tourists must spend at least 100 Canadian dollars to get the rebate; families may pool their expenditures to reach the minimum. Claims must be made within a year.
The general service tax is levied in addition to provincial taxes, which some provinces also refund. The best procedure is to apply for the federal rebate and then apply for the provincial refund once the receipts are returned, as the provinces may not return them. The procedures for applying for refunds varies among the provinces; their tourist information services can supply details.
Here are the provinces, their taxes and whether rebates are given. In some, no tax is charged if purchases are mailed outside the province.
Alberta: 5 percent accommodations tax, which is not refunded. No tax on goods and services.
British Columbia: 6 percent on most goods; on accommodations, 8 to 10 percent. There are no refunds.
Manitoba: 7 percent, which is refundable for goods taken out.
New Brunswick: 11 percent. No refunds.
Newfoundland: 12 percent; goods taken out are refundable if a minimum of $100 Candian was spent.
Northwest Territories and the Yukon: no local tax.
Nova Scotia: 10 percent. Refunds are given, with a $100 minimum.
Ontario: tax on goods is 8 percent; accommodation tax, 5 percent. Refunds are given if more than $100 Candian was spent.
Prince Edward Island: 10 percent. Refunds are given for goods taken out of the province.
Quebec: 8 percent. Refunds are given for goods taken out if more than $500 Canadian total.
Saskatchewan: 7 percent. There are no refunds.