On September 1, 2022, a new tax has come into effect in Canada: the luxury tax. In simple terms, the tax is government imposed and applies to items or services deemed to be non-essential. Unfortunately, there’s no way around the tax. But by better understanding how it works and when it applies, you can optimize your tax liability.

In this article, we’ll explore the details of the new luxury tax in Canada. This includes when the tax comes into effect, how to register and what documents to keep on hand for tax season.

What is the luxury tax in Canada?

The luxury tax in Canada is a tax on goods and services that are considered to be non-essential or, simply put, luxurious. This is a new tax requirement which came into effect on September 1, 2022. The purpose of the tax is to offset the cost of government programs and services by taxing those who can afford to pay more. The luxury tax applies to a wide range of items, including cars, boats, jewelry, and electronics.

The rate of the luxury tax varies from province to province, but it is generally around 10%. There are a few exceptions, such as food and clothing, which are usually exempt. The tax applies differently depending on the type of good or service. For example, the tax might be levied as a percentage of the purchase price or as a fixed amount per item.

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What is subject to the luxury tax in Canada?

In Canada, luxury tax applies to certain goods and services deemed as non-essential. The tax is levied at a rate of around 10% on the purchase price of the item. It is typically payable by the consumer.

The purpose of the luxury tax is to generate revenue for the government. While also discouraging Canadians from spending unnecessarily on high-priced items. While the tax affects only a small portion of the population, it can nonetheless have a significant impact on government revenue. According to the Canadian government, the new luxury tax will generate $779 million in revenue over the next five years.

Eligibility and criteria

Luxury items that are subject to the tax include motor vehicles, jewelry, furs, and high-end electronic devices. Sedans, station wagons, sports cars, passenger vans, minivans, SUVs, and pickup trucks are all included in Canadian luxury car tax. The tax also applies to certain services, such as private aircraft charters and yacht rentals.

Ambulances, hearses, vehicles equipped for police or emergency response activities, and recreational vehicles designed to provide temporary residential accommodation don’t incur the luxury tax. Any boat designed for leisure, recreation, or sport and manufactured after 2018 has eligibility. Floating homes, commercial fishing vessels, ferries, and cruise ships do not face luxury tax. A subject item does not include an aircraft, vessel, or vehicle registered with the government prior to September 1, 2022, if possession transfers to the user prior to that date. Any airplane, glider, or helicopter with a production date after 2018 that satisfies one of the following criteria incur the tax:

  • It can only have one or more pilot seats and cannot have any other type of seating arrangement; or
  • It has no seats at all, or only one or more pilot seats, and cannot have a seating arrangement with 40 or more seats (pilot seats excluded); or
  • It has a seating configuration of no more than 39 seats, one or more pilot seats, and one or more passenger seats (excluding pilot seats).
  • An aircraft built for military use or cargo transport is not a subject aircraft.

What is the Select Luxury Items Tax Act?

The Select Luxury Items Tax Act is a new Canadian law. It imposes a tax on the sale and import of luxury items, such as vehicles, aircraft and vessels, that exceed certain price thresholds. The tax takes effect on September 1, 2022.

Select luxury items such as vehicles, aircraft, and vessels imported into or manufactured in Canada are subject to the federal luxury tax. The minimum amount for which the tax applies is $100,000 for vehicles and aircraft and $250,000 for vessels. The tax is imposed on the total transaction value of the item, including shipping and handling charges, GST/HST, and other duties. The luxury tax is calculated as a percentage of the total transaction value. The obligation becomes due when the vehicle, aircraft, or vessel arrives at its final destination. The total transaction value does not include any applicable provincial sales taxes.

The purpose of the tax is to raise revenue for the government. Plus, discourage the purchase of luxury items by making them more expensive. It is anticipated for the tax to generate millions of dollars in revenue for the government each year.

Critics of the tax say it will unfairly target wealthy individuals and businesses, and it will make it more difficult for people to afford luxuries. In addition, it may cause certain industries to suffer in Canada due to less expenditure on those items. Supporters of the tax say that it is fair and necessary to help fund government programs and services. Given the tax was just implemented, it’s too early to know what the overall impact will be in reality.

When was the luxury tax implemented in Canada?

The Department of Finance released draft legislative and regulatory proposals on August 9, 2022. This included the draft Select Luxury Items Tax Regulations. The regulations came into full effect on September 1, 2022.

Is there a way to avoid the Canada luxury tax?

Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid the Canada luxury tax. This is because the tax applies to goods and services considered to be non-essential. It is difficult to argue that a luxury good or service is anything other than essential.

Additionally, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has general anti-avoidance rules (GAAR). These rules can challenge any transaction or arrangement designed primarily to avoid taxes. This rule is very broad, and can be applied in a number of different circumstances. As a result, it is unlikely that anyone would be able to successfully avoid the Canada luxury tax in the long run.

Luxury tax registration in Canada

If you are a business owner in Canada who sells luxury goods and services, you must register for the luxury tax. The tax is based on the value of the item or service. The rate varies depending on the type of good or service and your province or territory of residence. To register for the luxury tax, you must complete a form and submit it to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Returns and records: What you need to know

The initial reporting period is from September 1, 2022, to December 31, 2022. Registered suppliers will be expected to submit luxury tax returns on a calendar quarterly basis beyond that initial term. The final day of the month after the reporting period is the deadline for submitting a return and remitting the tax.

A person who performs one or more tasks in various branches or divisions may ask the minister for permission to submit different returns if:

  • The location or type of operations the branch or division engages in can be used to identify it individually; and
  • The division or branch has its own books and records.

Non-registrants may also be required to file a return and pay tax in certain circumstances. For instance, if they purchase or import a subject aircraft on a tax-exempt basis after certifying all or substantially all of the aircraft’s use will be for qualifying exempt activities, such as air ambulance services, flights to remote communities, or flights conducted in the course of a business of the owner of the aircraft.

To ensure the tax is being collected correctly, businesses are required to keep records of all sales and returns. These records must be kept for a period of six years and must be available for inspection by the Canadian Revenue Agency.

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Luxury tax calculator

The luxury tax calculator is a handy tool for anyone who is considering purchasing a luxury good. It can help to determine whether or not the purchase is affordable and it can also help to plan for the taxes that will be due. Here are various resources:

Canada luxury car tax calculator

BC luxury car tax calculator

Related Reading: Considerations for Canadian Investors: Year-End Tax Tips

Key Takeaways

No one knows how the luxury tax will impact consumers and businesses in Canada yet, but one thing is for sure – change is in the air. The government’s recent decision to implement a luxury tax is indicative of its commitment to increasing fairness and equity across all socioeconomic levels, and we can expect more changes like this in the year ahead. Before purchasing luxury items, be sure to check in on the applicable taxes.

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