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In Provincial Budget 2020, measures were announced that would require businesses not otherwise carrying on business in British Columbia (“BC”) to register for and collect PST. Amendments to the Provincial Sales Tax Act (British Columbia) (“BC PSTA”) were supposed to be effective on July 1, 2020, but were put on hold due to COVID‑19. It was recently announced that the new effective date will be April 1, 2021.
These measures follow similar changes across Canada that have been implemented with a focus on taxing e-commerce and the digital economy. See a summary of the significant changes to GST/HST announced in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement. See changes in 2020 relating to Saskatchewan PST.
Generally, BC PST applies to the retail sale of goods, certain services (such as telecommunication services), and software. BC PST does not apply to purchases intended for resale (e.g., sales made to distributors or retailers).
What is “Software” and “Telecommunication Services”?
The definition of “software” and “telecommunication services” for purposes of the BC PSTA are quite expansive and different than other Canadian jurisdictions.
Generally, “software” includes application software, system software, video games and mobile device apps that are delivered or accessed by any means (e.g., disk, cloud-based).
Generally, “telecommunication services” include services such as phone (mobile or landline), TV, radio, Internet access, email, text and picture and video messaging services. Telecommunication services also include the right, whether exercised or not, to download, view or access, audio books, music, audio programs, TV programs, movies and other video.
Who is now required to register?
As of April 1, 2021, businesses located outside BC but within Canada must register to collect and remit PST if, in the ordinary course of business, they do all of the following:
- Sell taxable goods to customers in BC.
- Accept orders from customers located in BC (including by telephone, mail, email or online) to purchase goods.
- Deliver the goods they sell to their BC customers to locations in BC (this includes goods they deliver through a third party, such as a courier).
- Meet the minimum BC revenue threshold (generally $10,000 of BC annual gross revenue) or sell vapour products.
Businesses located outside BC must register to collect and remit PST if, in the ordinary course of business, they do all of the following:
- Sell or provide taxable software for use on or with an electronic device ordinarily situated in BC or sell or provide taxable telecommunication services to customers in BC.
- Accept orders from customers located in BC (including by telephone, mail, email or online) to purchase software for use on or with an electronic device ordinarily situated in BC or telecommunication services.
- Meet the minimum BC revenue threshold (generally $10,000 of BC annual gross).
If you have questions about your Canadian sales tax obligations, contact a member of the Miller Thomson LLP Sales, Commodity and Indirect Tax Group.