News and Insights

British Columbia Issues More PST Bulletins

Tax Development Jun 01, 2013

British Columbia continues to issue and revise bulletins containing general information on the application of the Provincial Sales Tax (“PST”) that came into effect on April 1, 2013.

Several bulletins have been issued for specific industries, including:

Bulletin PST 104, “Real Property Contractors

This document provides definitions of real property, affixed machinery and real property contractors and discusses whether goods remain, or cease to be, tangible personal property based on common law principles.  It also includes a list of examples of improvements to real property, as well as affixed machinery, in its appendices.

As a general rule, real property contractors are required to pay PST on goods obtained to fulfil a contract, unless a specific exemption applies.  However, the tax status of a transaction will depend on whether the goods remain tangible personal property or become affixed machinery or an improvement to real property upon installation.  In addition, if a written agreement between the contractor and the customer assigns the tax liability to the customer, or the agreement specifies the purchase price of the goods, the contractor may be exempt from paying the PST on the materials.  Contractors may also be exempt when fulfilling contracts for the Government of Canada, resellers or other exempt persons (e.g., First Nation individuals).

The bulletin also contains details on the transitional rules for contractors, including PST payable on goods incorporated into certain residential homes subject to tax under the New Housing Transition and Rebate Act.

Bulletin PST 205, “Books, Magazines, Newspapers and Other Publications

For PST purposes, books (educational, technical, cultural or literary), magazines and periodicals (when issued by qualifying organizations and which meet certain criteria) are generally exempt.  However, directories, price lists, timetables, rate books, catalogues, reports, albums or similar publications are taxable.  And while audio books remain taxable, electronic publications (or e-books) are not.

This bulletin discusses the application of PST to various types of publications and provides lists of taxable publications and other exempt items.

Bulletin PST 207, “Medical Supplies and Equipment

This bulletin contains a detailed listing of examples of exempt medical supplies and equipment under the following categories:

  • Dental appliances and dentures;
  • Diabetic supplies;
  • Drugs and vaccines;
  • Equipment and devices for individuals with disabilities;
  • First aid materials;
  • Implants and similar items;
  • Household medical aids;
  • Optical appliances;
  • Orthopaedic appliances;
  • Ostomy supplies;
  • Vitamins and dietary supplements; 
  • Other medical products;
  • Parts for exempt medical supplies and equipment; and
  • Safety equipment and protective clothing.  

There is also an alphabetical listing of examples of taxable items, as well as guidance on purchases made by medical equipment suppliers and service providers.