Federal Budget Commentary: Sales and Excise Tax

Federal Budget Commentary: Sales and Excise Tax

GST/HST on Assignment Sales by Individuals

An assignment sale in respect of residential housing is a transaction in which a purchaser (an “assignor”) under an agreement of purchase and sale with a builder of a new home sells their rights and obligations under the agreement to another person (an “assignee”). An assignment sale of newly constructed (or substantially renovated) residential real estate made by an individual would generally be taxable if the individual had originally entered into the agreement of purchase and sale with the builder for the primary purpose of selling their interest in the agreement. Where there was another primary purpose, such as residing in the property, the assignment sale would generally be exempt.

To provide greater certainty on the status of assignment sales, Budget 2022 proposes to make all assignment sales in respect of newly constructed or substantially renovated residential housing taxable for GST/HST purposes. As a result, the GST/HST would apply to the total amount paid for a new home by its first occupant. Typically, the consideration for an assignment sale includes an amount attributable to a deposit that had previously been paid to the builder by the assignor. That deposit would already be subject to GST/HST when applied by the builder to the purchase price on closing. Budget 2022 proposes that the amount attributable to the deposit be excluded from the consideration for a taxable assignment sale.

The assignor in respect of a taxable assignment sale would generally be responsible for collecting the GST/HST and remitting the tax to CRA. Where an assignor is non-resident, the assignee would be required to self-assess and pay the GST/HST directly to CRA.

The amount of a new housing rebate is determined based on the total consideration payable for a newly-constructed home, which would include the consideration for a taxable assignment sale. Accordingly, these changes may affect the amount of a New Housing Rebate that may be available in respect of a new home.

This measure would apply in respect of any assignment agreement entered into on or after May 7, 2022 (one month after Budget Day).

GST/HST Health Care Rebate

Hospitals can claim an 83% rebate and charities and non-profit organizations can claim a 50% rebate of the GST (or federal component of the HST) that they pay on inputs used in their exempt supplies. The 83% hospital rebate also applies to eligible charities and non-profit organizations that provide health care services similar to those traditionally performed in hospitals.

One of the conditions to be eligible for the expanded hospital rebate is that a charity or non-profit organization must deliver the health care service with the active involvement of, or on the recommendation of, a physician, or in a geographically remote community, with the active involvement of a nurse practitioner.

Budget 2022 proposes to allow the 83% hospital rebate to a charity or non-profit organization that delivers health care service with the active involvement of, or on the recommendation of, either a physician or a nurse practitioner, irrespective of their geographical location.

This measure would generally apply to rebate claim periods ending after April 7, 2022 in respect of GST/HST paid or payable after that date.

Excise Tax on Vaping Products

Budget 2021 announced a consultation on a new excise duty on vaping products. Budget 2022 sets out a taxation framework on vaping products that include either liquid or solid vaping substances (whether or not they contain nicotine), with an equivalency of 1 ml of liquid = 1 gram of solids (excluding those already subject to the cannabis excise duty framework).

A federal excise duty rate of $1 per 2 ml, or fraction thereof, is proposed for the first 10 ml of vaping substance, and $1 per 10 ml, or fraction thereof, for volumes beyond that. If a province or territory were to choose to participate in a coordinated vaping taxation regime administered by the federal government as set out in the budget documents, an additional duty rate would be imposed in respect of dutiable vaping products intended for sale in that participating jurisdiction.

Other Excise Tax Measures

Excise Duty Framework

Budget 2022 proposes several amendments to streamline, strengthen, and adapt the cannabis excise duty framework specifically, as well as other excise regimes, including the following:

  • allow licensed cannabis producers to remit excise duties on a quarterly rather than monthly basis, starting from the quarter that began on April 1, 2022 where the licensee’s required excise duty remittances for the four immediately preceding fiscal quarters were less than $1M in excise duties during the four fiscal quarters;
  • allow CRA to approve certain contract-for-service arrangements between two licensed cannabis producers to permit the producers to:
  • transfer stamps, and packaged but unstamped products, between them;
  • stamp and enter cannabis products into the retail market that have been packaged by the other producer; and
  • pay the excise duty on cannabis products that were stamped by the other producer.
  • amend the penalty provision for lost cannabis excise stamps so that the higher penalty for losing stamps for a province or territory would only apply where the adjustment rate for that jurisdiction is greater than 0%;
  • apply the existing cannabis penalty provisions to situations where unlicensed parties illegally possess or purchase cannabis products, and where licensed parties illegally distribute cannabis products;
  • exempt holders of a Health Canada-issue Research Licence or Cannabis Drug Licence from the requirement to be licensed under the excise duty regime;
  • in respect of spirits, wine, tobacco and cannabis products:
  • add all cancellation criteria for an excise licence, other than a proactive request by a licensee to cancel its licence, to the criteria that CRA may use to suspend an excise licence;
  • remove cash and transferable bonds issued by the Government of Canada, and add bank drafts and Canada Post money orders, to the types of financial security that could be accepted by CRA; and
  • confirm the ability of CRA to carry out virtual audits and reviews of all licensees.

Except where indicated otherwise, the above proposals would be effective only on Royal Assent.

100% Canadian Wine Exemption

Wine that is produced in Canada and composed wholly of agricultural or plant product grown in Canada (i.e. 100% Canadian wine) is presently exempt from excise duties. However, this exemption was challenged at the World Trade Organization (WTO). In accordance with a settlement reached in July 2020, Budget 2022 proposes to repeal the 100% Canadian wine excise duty exemption effective on June 30, 2022.

Low-alcohol Beer

At present, wine and spirits containing no more than 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) are exempt from federal excise duty, however beer containing no more than 0.5% ABV is subject to duty. Budget 2022 proposes to eliminate excise duty for beer containing no more than 0.5% ABV, bringing the tax treatment of such beer into line with the treatment of wine and spirits with the same alcohol content. This measure would come into force on July 1, 2022.

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