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.
Per the statement, the following types of face coverings will qualify for tax relief:
certification requirements and does not have an exhalation valve or vent
viruses, and that meets the following specified construction requirements:
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;
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.