GST/HST and indigenous peoples

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The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) wants you to be aware of GST/HST requirements that apply to you as an Indian, an Indian band, and band-empowered entity, under the Indian Act. We recognize that many indigenous people in Canada prefer not to describe themselves as Indians. However, the term Indian is used because it has a legal meaning in the Indian Act.

Do you have to pay the GST/HST?

In general, indigenous people in Canada are required to pay taxes on the same basis as other people in Canada, except where the limited exemption under Section 87 of the Indian Act applies. Section 87 says that the "personal property of an Indian or a band situated on a reserve" is tax exempt. Inuit and Métis people are not eligible for this exemption and generally do not live on reserves.

See the following tabs for various situations on how GST/HST applies to goods and services.

Goods

Goods (this does not include goods that are taxable at 0%)

Generally, Indians do not pay the GST/HST on goods bought on a reserve or delivered to a reserve by a vendor or the vendor's agent. However, the GST/HST does apply in some cases. See the following chart for various situations:

How the GST/HST applies to goods

Purchaser Situation Does the GST/HST apply?
Indian, Indian band, or band-empowered entity
  • You bought goods on a reserve.
  • You presented the proper document to the vendor.

No. Example 1

Indian, Indian band, or an unincorporated
band-empowered entity
  • You bought goods off a reserve.
  • You presented the proper document to the vendor.
  • The vendor or vendor's agent delivered the goods to a reserve.

No. Example 2

Incorporated
band-empowered entity

No. Example 3

Indian
  • You bought goods off a reserve.
  • You used your own vehicle to transport the goods to a reserve.

Yes. Example 4

Exception for Ontario 1

Indian
  • You bought goods off a reserve from a vendor who qualifies and operates as a remote store.
  • You presented the proper document to the vendor.
  • You used your own vehicle to transport the goods to a reserve.
No. Example 5
Indian, Indian band, or band-empowered entity Yes, even if after importation
Canada Post, the vendor, or the
vendor's agent delivers the goods to a reserve. Example 6
Non-Indian
  • You bought goods on a reserve.
Yes. Example 7

1 Exception for Ontario: On certain supplies of property or services, only the federal part (5%) of the HST is applicable since point-of-sale relief for the provincial part (8%) of HST is provided. See HST Point-of-Sale exemption.

Services

Services

Generally, Indians do not pay the GST/HST on services performed entirely on a reserve. However, the GST/HST does apply in some cases. See the following chart for various situations:

How the GST/HST applies to services

Purchaser Situation Does the GST/HST apply?
Indian
  • You paid for a service performed entirely on a reserve.
  • You presented the proper document to the vendor.
No. Example 1
Indian
  • You paid for a service not entirely performed on a reserve.
Yes, unless the service purchased is related to real property interests on a reserve. Example 2
Indian
  • You paid for a service related to real property off a reserve.

Yes. Example 3

Indian
  • You paid for a service performed off a reserve.
  • This service is related to real property interests on a reserve.
  • You presented the proper document to the vendor.
No. Example 4
Indian band or a band-empowered entity (incorporated or unincorporated)
  • You paid for a service related to band management activities on or off a reserve or for a service related to real property on a reserve.
  • You presented the proper document to the vendor.
No, unless the service is related to off-reserve transportation, short-term accommodations, meals, or Entertainment. Example 5
Indian band or a band-empowered entity (incorporated or unincorporated)
  • You paid for a service off a reserve.
  • This service is related to transportation, meals, short-term accommodations, or entertainment.

Yes. Example 6

However, you may be entitled to recover the GST/HST paid on these services. For more information, see Which rebates are available?

Indian No. Example 7
Indian, Indian band, or band-empowered entity
  • You paid for a transportation service.
  • The origin, the destination, or both is off a reserve.
Yes. Example 8
Non-Indian
  • You paid for a service on a reserve.
Yes. Example 9

 

Which GST/HST rebates are available?

GST/HST rebates

Purchaser

Situation

You may be eligible to claim

Indian, Indian band, or band-empowered entity

You paid the GST/HST in error.

General rebate, under Reason code 1A – Amounts paid in error for goods or services bought on or delivered to a reserve.

Indian, Indian band, or band-empowered entity

In Ontario, you paid the provincial part of the HST in error because the vendor did not apply the Ontario point-of-sale relief on qualifying goods and services. 

Rebate for the provincial part of the HST, under Ontario HST Refund for First Nations.

Indian band or
band-empowered entity

You paid GST/HST on certain travel expenses you incurred off a reserve (for example, transportation, meeting rooms, short term accommodations, meals, and entertainment expenses).

These expenses are for band management activities or for real property located on a reserve.

General rebate, under  Reason Code 8 – Indian band, Tribal council, or band-empowered entity.

Band-empowered entity

You are considered a qualifying non-profit organization and you paid GST/HST.

Note
Band funding of Indian non-profit organization is considered the same as government funding when determining if the person is a qualifying non-profit organization.

Public Service Bodies' Rebate, under line 306 of Form GST66, Application for GST/HST Public Service Bodies' Rebate and GST Self-Government Refund for a partial recovery of the GST or the federal part of the HST.

Public Service Bodies' Rebate, under line 306 of Form RC7066-SCH, Provincial Schedule – GST/HST Public Service Bodies' Rebate for a partial recovery of the provincial part of the HST.

GST/HST registered vendor

You applied GST/HST relief on goods you sold off a reserve in Ontario.

General rebate, under Reason code 23 – Ontario First Nations point-of-sale relief.

What documents are required for GST/HST relief?

As an Indian, it is necessary that you get a proof of registration with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) to be eligible for GST/HST relief. For more information, go to Indian Status.

As a vendor, if you do not charge the GST/HST on sales of taxable goods and services, you need proof that the purchaser is an Indian, Indian band, or band-empowered entity. The following chart shows the different documents you need to request and keep in your records.

Documents required for GST/HST relief

Purchaser

 
Documents and records required

 
Information required when goods are delivered to a reserve
 
Indian

Certificate of Indian Status card – You need to record on the invoice or other sales document their 9 or 10 digit registry number or their band name and family number (commonly referred to as the band number/treaty number), which is found on the card.

Temporary Confirmation of Registration Document (TCRD) – Some individuals that are registered as Indians under the Indian Act will receive this card from AANDC. You need to record the registration number and expiration date on the invoice or other sales document. Photocopies of the TCRD presented to the vendor at the time of the sale do not qualify as appropriate documentation.

The vendor also must keep proof that the goods were delivered to a reserve (for example, a waybill, postal receipt, or freight bill). The goods must be delivered by either the vendor or the vendor’s agent. For more information, go to Purchases of property made off a reserve and delivered to a reserve.

Indian band or band-empowered entity

An original certificate showing one of the following statements:

  • that the goods are being acquired by an Indian band or an unincorporated band-empowered entity
  • in the case of an incorporated band-empowered entity, that the goods are being acquired for band management activities or for real property on a reserve
  • that the service is being acquired for band management activities or for real property on a reserve
The vendor also must keep proof that the goods were delivered to a reserve (for example, a waybill, postal receipt, or freight bill). The goods must be delivered by either the vendor or the vendor’s agent. For more information, go to Purchases of property made off a reserve and delivered to a reserve.

What are your GST/HST responsibilities as a vendor?

Generally, as a business owner, you have to register for the GST/HST when revenues from your taxable supplies of goods and services total more than $30,000 annually. This must include your sales to Indians even if no GST/HST was charged. 

Once you have registered for the GST/HST, you must collect the GST/HST on your taxable sales of goods and services. To determine if GST/HST is applicable to sales made to Indians, Indian bands, and band-empowered entities, see Do you have to pay the GST/HST?.

You may also be able to claim input tax credits for the GST/HST paid on purchases related to your commercial activities.

Keeping proper records

You must keep proper records when you sell taxable goods and services to Indians, Indian bands, and band-empowered entities. You need to request the appropriate documents and record certain information, or attach the document, on your invoice or sales receipts.

Vendor who qualifies as a remote store

The requirement for goods to be delivered to a reserve by a vendor or a vendor's agent will be waived where the vendor qualifies as a remote store under one of the three options described in GST/HST Policy Statement P-246, Remote stores and other off-reserve stores with significant sales to Indians, Indian bands, and band-empowered entities.

If you choose to operate as a remote store, you must keep proper documentation regarding the sales you made to Indians, Indian bands, and band-empowered entities. A vendor's reporting period for filing GST/HST returns is not affected by their decision to operate as a remote store.

If you qualify and decide to operate as a remote store, each year, you must advise your tax services office of your decision.

Dealing with a First Nation having a self-government agreement in place

You may come across situations where Indians are members of a First Nation having a self-government agreement in place. In these cases, they will need to provide additional documents to determine if the tax relief under the Indian Act still applies. For more information, go to GST/HST Notice 238, First Nations Having a Self-government Agreement Ending Indian Act Tax Relief – Determining Tax Relief for Indian Members Who Are Not Citizens.

What other taxes are specific to First Nations and Aboriginal Governments?

Some band councils or other governing bodies of First Nations passed their own laws imposing:

There are exceptions to the application of the GST/HST to Yukon First Nations. For more information, go to GST/HST Notice143, Application of GST/FNGST to Yukon First Nations and their Members.

Forms and publications

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