Notice to the reader: For Retail Sales Tax (RST) – On July 1, 2010 the 13 per cent Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) took effect in Ontario replacing the existing provincial Retail Sales Tax (RST) and combining it with the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST). As a result, RST provisions described on this page and in other publications ended on June 30, 2010.
Effective July 1, 2010 this publication was archived for RST purposes only. Use caution when you refer to it, since it reflects the law in force for RST at the time it was released and may no longer apply.
For Retail Sales Tax (RST) purposes, all goods are taxable unless the purchaser is entitled to an exemption, and all services are non-taxable unless specifically taxed under the Retail Sales Tax Act. The lists below provide some examples of taxable and non-taxable goods and services in Ontario. For more details on how RST applies to specific items, please see the proper RST Guide, Small Business Pointer or Information Notice that may apply to you.
What is Retail Sales Tax?
Retail Sales Tax is a consumption tax. This means that the person who consumes or uses the taxable goods or taxable services pays the tax.
RST is imposed on the consumer or user of:
- taxable goods
- taxable services
- admission prices
- insurance premiums.
Common goods that are not taxable
Here are examples of the most common goods that are not taxable to anyone
- basic groceries such as flour, sugar, spices, breads, cereals, eggs, butter, margarine, cheese, peanut butter, jam, honey, fruits, vegetables, milk and yogurt
- food products (except for candies, confections, snack foods and soft drinks)
- prepared foods sold by an eating establishment for $4 or less
- children's clothing (including diapers)
- footwear costing $30 or less
- feminine hygiene products
- drugs and medicine sold under a doctor's prescription
- goods designed solely for people with physical disabilities
- vitamins and minerals.
Some goods may be purchased without paying RST depending upon who the purchaser is or what the intended end-use of the goods will be.
- goods purchased for resale
- production machinery and equipment purchased for the use of a qualifying manufacturer
- goods incorporated into other goods for resale.
Only certain services are taxable in Ontario. They are:
- telecommunication services (telephone, cable, pay television)
- accommodation for less than one month (hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts)
- labour provided to install, assemble, dismantle, adjust, repair or maintain tangible personal property and labour provided to install, configure, modify or upgrade a computer program
- contracts for the service, maintenance or warranty of goods, including computer programs
- commercial parking.
Examples of non-taxable services include:
- dry cleaning
- carpet and upholstery cleaning
- personal services, such as hair styling, barbering, and beauty treatments
- medical and health services
- veterinary care
- car washing and engine shampooing
- labour to install or repair real property or fixtures.
Have you paid RST in error?
If you have paid RST in error, keep your original receipt(s). You may claim a refund from the Ministry of Finance within four years of the date that you paid the RST.
How do I claim the refund?
To claim a refund, you need to complete the General Application for Refund of Retail Sales Tax form [PDF - 400 KB]. Make sure you have clear photocopies of your receipts. You will need to include them with your application.
How do I complete the application?
You can complete the General Application for Refund of Retail Sales Tax [PDF - 400 KB] form online, then print a copy and drop it off at a Ministry of Finance Tax Office, or mail it to us at:
Ministry of Revenue
33 King Street West
PO Box 625
Oshawa ON L1H 8E9
You can also pick up an application at a Ministry of Finance Tax Office, or call 1 866 ONT-TAXS (1 866 668-8297).
Complete instructions are provided on the application form.
We have many publications that provide information on other taxable and non-taxable goods and services. The most commonly requested publications are:
What if I have more questions or need help?
- Visit or call your nearest Ministry of Finance Tax Office for assistance.
- Call 1 866 ONT-TAXS (1 866 668-8297).