British Columbia recently revised two of its Provincial Sales Tax (PST) Bulletins: Bulletin PST 321, Businesses from Outside B.C.(“Bulletin PST 321”) and Bulletin PST 107, Telecommunication Services (“Bulletin PST 107”). These revisions reflect amendments to the governing legislation, the Provincial Sales Tax Act (British Columbia) (the “BC PSTA”), which have been enacted during the last few years. Now is a good time for businesses located inside and outside British Columbia to review whether they may be required to register for, collect, and remit, British Columbia provincial sales tax (“BC PST”).
Businesses from outside B.C.
Bulletin PST 321 was updated in January 2024 and revises the originally issued version published September 2016. The revisions add information about when a business located outside of British Columbia may be required to register for, collect, and remit, BC PST. Further, the list of businesses that may have obligations under the BC PSTA was expanded to include online marketplace facilitators, software companies, and telecommunication service providers.
Broadly speaking, businesses that are not located in British Columbia may be required to register to collect and remit BC PST if the business:
- sells taxable goods, software (including in an intangible format), or services in British Columbia;
- leases taxable goods in British Columbia; or
- is an online marketplace facilitator that meets certain criteria.
The scope of services that are considered telecommunication services under the BC PSTA is far broader than under other Canadian sales tax legislation. A “telecommunication service” under the BC PSTA includes the right, whether exercised or not, to download, view or access (e.g., streaming content), by utilizing a telecommunication system, one or more of the following telecommunications by means of an electronic device that is ordinarily situated in British Columbia:
- an audio book;
- an audio program (including podcasts and radio programs);
- a ring tone (including text tones and other alert tones); and
- a television program, motion picture or other video.
Bulletin PST 107 was updated in January 2024 and revises the version published in October 2022. The revisions clarify registration requirements for businesses located in British Columbia who sell or provide telecommunication services in British Columbia, add information about online marketplace facilitators and sellers, clarify information about prepaid purchase cards (which includes gift cards and gift certificates), and adds information about educational exemptions.
Businesses should review their BC PST obligations
Many businesses located outside British Columbia (and in British Columbia) are unaware of their requirement to register for, collect, and remit BC PST. Businesses should be proactive in reviewing their obligations – do not wait for an audit to commence or issues to be identified by a potential buyer!
Businesses that received advice prior to recent legislative amendments should revisit that advice. Businesses that assumed the BC PSTA did not apply because they are not located in British Columbia, or do not sell physical goods, should reconsider that premise.
To discuss how the BC PSTA may apply to your business, or how to take steps to become compliant, contact a member of the Miller Thomson LLP Sales, Commodity and Indirect Tax team.