Canadian government lifts sales tax on masks and face shields

Dec 2 2020, 6:43 am

The Canadian government is opting not to charge sales tax on face masks and shields as the country continues to grapple with an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

The government amended the new measure in its Fall Economic Statement 2020.

Face masks and shields that meet a certain requirement will be temporarily relieved from both the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) after December 6.

The government says the initiative is put in place “in order to support public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The zero-rating GST and HST will apply to face masks and/or shields designed for human use that meet a certain set of specifications.

The following types of face coverings will qualify for tax-free sales:

  • A face mask or respirator that is authorized for medical use in Canada or meets N95, KN95 or equivalent certification requirements and does not have an exhalation valve or vent.
  • A face mask or respirator for use in preventing the transmission of infectious agents, such as respiratory viruses, and that meets the following specified construction requirements:
    • is made of multiple layers of dense material but may have a portion in front of the lips made of transparent and impermeable material that permits lip-reading provided that there is a tight seal between the transparent material and the rest of the face mask or respirator;
    • is large enough to completely cover the nose, mouth and chin without gaping;
    • has ear loops, ties or straps for securing the face mask or respirator to the head;
    • does not have an exhalation valve or vent.
  • A face shield that has a transparent and impermeable window or visor that covers the entire face and has a head strap or cap for holding it in place, but is not specifically designed or marketed for any use other than preventing the transmission of infectious agents, such as respiratory viruses.

The zero-rating of taxes will remain in effect until “their use is no longer broadly recommended by public health officials for the COVID-19 pandemic,” concluded the document’s “Sales Tax Measure” section.

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