Do You Have To Charge The Contractor With GST/HST?

Do You Have To Charge The Contractor With GST/HST?

The question, “Do I need to charge HST or GST as a contractor?” is pivotal, particularly for independent contractors in Canada. Understanding do contractors charge tax on labour

and comprehending the HST/GST rules for contractors is paramount.

As a business owner, the responsibility of managing expenses, tax obligations, and legal matters falls squarely on your shoulders. And there’s no need to fret – we’re here to help you understand the ins and outs of HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) and GST (Goods and Services Tax), including when it’s crucial to apply them.

GST/HST, classified as a consumption tax, is exclusively levied on the final sale of goods and services to end consumers. It’s worth noting that businesses aren’t subject to paying GST/HST on goods and services procured for resale.

Importance of Understanding GST/HST Obligations For Contractors

GST and HST are levies applicable to the majority of goods and services sold or provided in Canada.

While GST operates at the federal level, HST represents a unified adaptation of GST, overseen by the federal government alongside one or more provinces.

Determining Applicable GST/HST Charges

Understanding when and how to register for independent contractor GST Canada, and when to levy these taxes, is pivotal for maintaining compliance. Here’s a breakdown of essential points to guide you through this process.

  • Registration Thresholds and Exceptions

Contractors are typically mandated to register for GST/HST if their total sales surpass $30,000 within any consecutive twelve month period. This general rule, however, comes with exceptions. 

Contractors who operate as corporations can bypass GST/HST registration if their sales remain below the $30,000 threshold. It’s worth considering voluntary registration, especially if significant input tax credits (ITCs) can be claimed.

  • Charging GST/HST on Taxable Supplies

Contractors are required to apply GST/HST on the entire value of their taxable supplies, which encompasses the costs of materials and services procured from other businesses. 

For instance, if a contractor procures $100 worth of materials for a project and invoices the client $1,000 for the project, GST/HST must be applied to the full $1,100 amount.

  • Claiming Input Tax Credits (ITCs)

Contractors can seek reimbursement for the GST/HST paid on goods and services purchased for their business operations through input tax credits. 

These credits are invaluable tools to offset the GST/HST remittance that contractors owe to the government.

  • GST/HST Filing Schedule

Contractors must file their GST/HST returns at least annually, and in certain cases quarterly or even monthly. These returns must be submitted electronically via the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) My Business Account portal, streamlining the reporting process.

Understanding if Contractors Apply Tax to Labour Costs

A common question in the contracting world is do contractors charge tax on labour. The answer varies based on the GST rules for contractors applicable to your situation.

  • GST/HST Rules: In Canada’s context, especially under the GST/HST framework, the taxation of labour can be a bit nuanced. Generally, labour itself isn’t subject to GST/HST. However, there are exceptions. If your services fall into the category of “taxable supplies,” you might need to charge GST as a contractor on labour – think services like construction, renovation, or repair. 

On the other hand, if your services are considered “exempt supplies,” you usually won’t apply GST/HST to labour charges. It’s crucial to grasp how your services fit into these categories.

  • Local Rules Matter: The way labour is taxed could also depend on where you’re operating. Different provinces might have their own rules, making it important to be aware of any regional distinctions.
  • Transparent Communication: When you provide estimates or quotes to clients, it’s a good practice to clearly communicate whether labour charges include taxes like GST/HST. Transparency helps clients understand the complete financial picture.

Acquiring Your GST/HST Identification

Small-scale or unique operating models don’t exempt your business from tax responsibilities. Similar to any enterprise, meticulous attention is necessary when it comes to tax obligations and payments. Nevertheless, the approach to cost calculation might exhibit some variations.

There are a couple of straightforward methods to secure your independent contractor GST Canada number, granting you access to the necessary identification for your business’s taxation matters. Here’s how you can go about it:

1. Online Registration via CRA’s My Business Account:

This option proves to be the most efficient and seamless approach to register for GST/HST. Follow these steps:

a. Visit the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) My Business Account website.

b. Locate and select the “Register for a GST/HST number” button.

c. Abide by the instructions presented on the screen.

d. During the process, you will need to furnish:

  • Your business name and address
  • Your social insurance number (SIN)
  • Your business type
  • Your projected annual sales

Upon submitting your application, the CRA will assess it. Should any additional details be required, they will get in touch.

Once your application gains approval, you will be assigned a GST/HST number. You’ll then be able to conveniently manage your GST/HST account via your My Business Account portal.

2. Traditional Application Submission

Alternatively, you can opt for the more conventional route:

a. Acquire the GST/HST Application form (Form RC1) from the CRA’s official website.

b. Complete the form with the required information.

c. Mail or fax the fully filled application form to the CRA.

Upon successful registration, your business will be granted a GST/HST number. This number is crucial and should be prominently displayed on all your invoices and returns.

It’s paramount to note that if you anticipate your annual sales to exceed $30,000, registering for GST/HST is mandatory within 30 days of commencing your business operations. Overlooking this requirement may lead to penalties and interest.

Collecting and Applying GST/HST

After successfully registering for GST/HST and obtaining your GST number, you are now equipped to incorporate GST/HST charges for taxable goods and services rendered to your customers. 

The GST/HST collected in this process is then directed to the Canada Revenue Agency through the submission of a GST/HST return, undertaken quarterly or annually. 

This return is facilitated using your unique GST number, which the CRA identifies as your business number. Here’s a concise guide outlining the process:

1. Determine Applicable GST/HST Rate

Identify the relevant GST/HST rate linked to your supply. The rate is contingent on the province or territory of the transaction. It stands at 5% GST as the federal rate of sales tax and the Provincial Sales Tax rate may vary across most provinces. 

Notably, Ontario observes a 13% HST, while New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island have a 15% HST.

2. Add GST/HST to the Price

Integrate the GST/HST into the supply’s cost. For instance, if you’re vending a product for $100 in Ontario, including the 13% HST leads to a total price of $113.

3. Collect GST/HST from the Customer

Secure the GST/HST payment from your customer. Payment can be made via cash, cheque, or credit card.

4. Issue a Comprehensive Invoice

Furnish your customer with a detailed invoice encompassing the following specifics:

  • Your business name and GST/HST number
  • Customer’s name and address
  • Supply description
  • Supply price
  • GST/HST amount

5. Remit GST/HST to the CRA

The frequency of remittance hinges on your total sales:

  • If annual sales are under $1 million, remit quarterly.
  • If annual sales exceed $1 million, remit monthly.

6. Seek Professional Advice:

If GST/HST procedures appear complex, consulting a tax professional is advisable.

Final Thoughts

The Canada Revenue Agency offers various resources, including publications and brochures tailored to diverse business types, to aid in understanding GST/HST.

Maintaining meticulous records is pivotal – these documents play a vital role in your business operations and must be furnished to the CRA as required. Remember that the tax filing deadline is June 15th each year.

Should you have inquiries about charging GST as a contractor, don’t hesitate to seek the expertise of our accounting professionals. They stand ready to provide comprehensive guidance, ensuring you navigate the landscape with confidence.


1. Do Consultants Have to Charge GST in Canada?

For independent contractors in Canada, the question of whether to charge GST is often raised. Whether consultants have to charge GST depends on various factors, including the nature of the services provided and the income threshold. Generally, if your annual sales exceed $30,000, you are required to register for GST/HST. However, specific services might be exempt from GST/HST. It’s essential to understand the GST rules for contractors and consult with tax professionals if needed to determine whether GST charging is applicable to your consulting services.

2. Do I Include GST on My Invoices?

Indeed, including GST on your invoices is typically necessary if you are a registered GST/HST vendor. When you provide taxable goods or services, you are required to specify the GST/HST amount separately on your invoices. This practice ensures transparency and helps your clients understand the total cost they are being charged, in compliance with GST rules for contractors.

3. Is GST Applicable to Customers Outside of Canada?

The applicability of GST to customers outside of Canada depends on the type of supply and various factors. Generally, if you’re providing goods or services to customers located outside Canada, the supply might be considered an “export” and could be zero-rated for GST/HST purposes. However, it’s crucial to thoroughly understand the GST rules for contractors, especially when dealing with international transactions. Consulting with professionals experienced in cross-border transactions can provide clarity on whether GST is applicable in such scenarios.

In all these situations, understanding the implications of GST as a contractor, including charging, invoicing, and international aspects, can be complex. Seeking advice from tax experts and accountants who are well-versed in independent contractor GST rules in Canada is advisable to ensure accurate compliance and decision-making.