Starting next week, Canadians shopping for face masks (or shields, if that's your preference) will start seeing them sold tax-free next week, so long as they meet certain specifications.

The federal government announced the new measure in its Fall Economic Statement 2020. 

According to the document, certain face masks and face shields made after December 6 will be temporarily relieved from both the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).

The zero-rating of GST and HST will apply to medical and non-medical face masks or shields that have been designed for human use and meet a set of physical requirements.

READ: Home Office Expense Claims Up to $400 to Be Permitted This Tax Season

Per the statement, the following types of face coverings will qualify for tax relief:

  • A face mask or respirator that is authorized for medical use in Canada, or meets N95, KN95 or equivalent
  • certification requirements and does not have an exhalation valve or vent

  • A face mask or respirator for use in preventing the transmission of infectious agents, such as respiratory
  • viruses, and that meets the following specified construction requirements:

    •  is made of multiple layers of dense material, but may have a portion in front of the lips made of
    • transparent and impermeable material that permits lip reading provided that there is a tight seal

      between the transparent material and the rest of the face mask or respirator;

    • is large enough to completely cover the nose, mouth and chin without gaping;
    • has ear loops, ties or straps for securing the face mask or respirator to the head; and
    • does not have an exhalation valve or vent.
    • A face shield that has a transparent and impermeable window or visor, covers the entire face and has a head
    • strap or cap for holding it in place, but is not specifically designed or marketed for a use other than

      preventing the transmission of infectious agents, such as respiratory viruses.

      The zero-rating of taxes will apply to these items "until their use is no longer broadly recommended by public health officials for the COVID-19 pandemic."

      This tax-free measure for masks is another way the newly-released Fall Economic Statement 2020 appears to acknowledge the financial impacts of the ongoing pandemic on Canadians. The document also reports that “home office expense” tax claims of up to $400 will be permitted in the coming tax season.