Ontario First Nations Point-of-Sale Rebates and Exemptions

On October 17, 2018, the sale of recreational cannabis became legal in Ontario. While the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) generally applies to cannabis products, purchases of most forms of recreational cannabis are not eligible for the Ontario First Nations HST point of sale rebate. Medical cannabis purchases continue to be eligible for a rebate of the 8% Ontario portion of the HST, as long as they meet all the rebate criteria. Please refer to the Health Canada website for more information about requirements to obtain medical cannabis. Learn more about what's taxable and what's not and how to process an HST point-of-sale rebate.


The Ministry of Finance is experiencing an increase in the number and size of rebate applications related to the Ontario HST rebate for First Nations. Processing of these rebate applications is taking longer than the ministry's service standard of 40 business days. Thank you for your patience as we continue to process these claims in an expedient manner. For more information, refer to the FAQs at the end of this page.

The contents of this guide do not affect, or interfere with, the application of the exemption under section 87 of the Indian Act and its effect on the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST).

This guide provides information about the point‑of‑sale exemption for the Ontario portion of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) as well as the Ontario Retail Sales Tax (RST) exemptions available to Ontario First Nations people.


HST point‑of‑sale exemption

Effective September 1, 2010

On June 17, 2010, the Government of Ontario announced that its existing RST rebate for First Nation individuals with status card, bands and band councils of an Ontario First Nations reserve will continue for qualifying off‑reserve property or services (including sales and leases) as Ontario moves to the HST.

Effective September 1, 2010, First Nation individuals with a status card, bands and band councils of an Ontario First Nations reserve are entitled to a rebate from paying the eight per cent Ontario component of the HST on qualifying property or services at point‑of‑sale.

The point‑of‑sale rebate for First Nation individuals with a status card, bands and band councils of an Ontario First Nations reserve will apply only to qualifying off‑reserve acquisitions or importations of property or services that are for the personal consumption of the individual with a status card or exclusively for consumption or use by the band or the council of the band.

The First Nation point‑of‑sale rebate will not apply where any other relief is available, such as:

  • when the purchaser is eligible for input tax credits for the HST payable (e.g., because the purchase is for use in the purchaser's commercial activities)
  • in cases where the supply is already relieved of the HST because it is zero‑rated (e.g., basic groceries) or exempt (e.g., certain health care services), or
  • when the property is a designated item that qualifies for an Ontario point‑of‑sale rebate for the Ontario component of the HST (e.g., children's clothing, printed books).

Effective September 1, 2010, vendors will provide a credit (rebate) at the time of sale of the eight per cent Ontario component of the HST for qualifying off‑reserve property or services.

Also, effective September 1, 2010, the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) will credit the eight per cent Ontario component of the HST on qualifying goods imported by Ontario First Nation individuals with a status card, bands and band councils of an Ontario First Nations reserve.

Ontario First Nation individuals will be required to present a valid Certificate of Indian Status identity card issued by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada to the vendor at the time of purchase or, in the case of importations, to a border service officer at the time that the goods are imported.

Generally, purchasers with a status card will not be required to take any additional steps in order to take advantage of this point‑of‑sale rebate. Where a First Nation individual with a status card acquires or imports a qualifying property or service, the vendor will provide the purchaser with the point‑of‑sale rebate by crediting the Ontario component of the HST and only collecting the five per cent federal component of the HST on that property or service.

For qualifying imported goods, relief of the eight per cent Ontario component of the HST will be applied as a deduction from the amount that would be required to be collected from Ontario First Nation individuals with a status card, bands, or band councils of an Ontario First Nations reserve upon importation at the port of entry.

In the event that a First Nation individual with a status card, band or band council of an Ontario First Nations reserve purchaser does pay the Ontario component of the HST on the purchase or importation of a qualifying item (e.g., the vendor did not credit the Ontario component of the HST to the purchaser), the purchaser will be entitled to apply to the Ontario Ministry of Finance for a rebate of the Ontario component of the HST paid.

Rebate scope

The Ontario First Nations HST point‑of‑sale rebate will generally follow the practice of the RST rebate for property or services purchased off‑reserve by First Nation individuals with a status card, bands and band councils of an Ontario First Nations reserve as it existed prior to July 1, 2010.

This point‑of‑sale rebate is in addition to the current exemption provided to First Nation individuals with a status card under section 87 of the Indian Act (Canada) which is applied to the GST/HST framework. For information on the application of GST/HST to First Nation individuals with a status card, please refer to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website at www.cra-arc.gc.ca.

Who is eligible

The point‑of‑sale rebate for First Nations people is restricted to:

  • Individuals with a status card who are Ontario residents
  • Individuals with a status card who are Canadian residents and resident on the Akwesasne reserve, or
  • Band or council of a band of an Ontario First Nations reserve (including the Akwesasne reserve).

Property or services that qualify for the HST point‑of‑sale rebate

The following property or services qualify for the point‑of‑sale rebate when acquired in or imported into Ontario:

  • Tangible personal property (including new and used motor vehicles purchased from a motor vehicle dealer and take‑out meals) other than tangible personal property listed below under Tangible personal property that does not qualify for the point‑of‑sale rebate
    • Medical cannabis purchased from a federally authorized licence holder
    • Low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cannabis products* that do not have a duty-paid stamp on them
    • Cannabis accessories (e.g., rolling papers, pipes, vaporizers)
  • An agreement for warranty or maintenance of the qualifying tangible personal property
  • A service of installing, assembling, dismantling, adjusting, repairing or maintaining the qualifying tangible personal property
  • A telecommunication service (including cable television, telephone, internet) within the meaning of Part IX of the Excise Tax Act (Canada).

Generally, services eligible for the point‑of‑sale rebate are those that were exempt from RST only when purchased by a First Nation individual with a status card.

*Note - a low-THC cannabis product means dried cannabis, cannabis oil or fresh cannabis any part of which does not have more than 0.3% THC. Please refer to the federal Excise Act, 2001 for more information.

Tangible personal property that does not qualify for the HST point‑of‑sale rebate

The following tangible personal property does not qualify for the point‑of‑sale rebate and remains subject to the HST:

  • Restaurant meals other than take‑out meals
  • Tangible personal property supplied under an agreement for catering services
  • Electricity, natural gas or any other form of energy
  • Gasoline within the meaning of the Gasoline Tax Act and fuel within the meaning of the Fuel Tax Act
  • Liquor, beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages
  • Tobacco within the meaning of the Tobacco Tax Act
  • Most forms of recreational cannabis (except low-THC cannabis products); these items will have a duty-paid stamp on them.

Other property and services that are excluded from the HST point‑of‑sale rebate

The following are examples of property and services that do not qualify for the point‑of‑sale rebate and therefore are subject to the HST:

  • Intangible personal property that is not situated on a reserve
  • Real property (e.g., new homes, condos and mobile homes), transient accommodation (i.e., hotel accommodation), and parking, that is not located on a reserve
  • Services that were not taxable under RST (e.g., car washing, jewellery engraving), and
  • All other services that are not GST/HST relieved to the general public will generally remain taxable to First Nation individuals with a status card under HST when they are not performed on a reserve (e.g., haircuts, massage therapy, dry‑cleaning, home renovations, funeral services).

Distribution channels where the HST point‑of‑sale rebate is not permitted

Vendors are not allowed to provide the point‑of‑sale rebate for qualifying property or services when purchased via the Internet or through other distribution channels for which the presentation of a Certificate of Indian Status card to verify eligibility is not possible. In addition, the point‑of‑sale rebate will not be credited on goods imported by mail or courier.

When First Nation individuals with a status card, bands and band councils of an Ontario First Nations reserve acquire qualifying property or services through these distribution channels, they may claim a rebate from the Ontario Ministry of Finance of the eight per cent Ontario component of the HST paid.

Purchaser responsibilities

First Nation individuals with a status card must show a valid Certificate of Indian Status card to claim the rebate on qualifying property or services. They must be acquiring or importing the eligible property or services exclusively for their personal use or consumption in order to be eligible to claim the point‑of‑sale rebate. First Nation individuals with a status card are not eligible to claim the point‑of‑sale rebate in cases where the property or services are not for their personal consumption.

Bands and band councils of an Ontario First Nations reserve must present written certification (e.g., a letter on band letterhead signed by an authorized representative of the band) that the property or services are exclusively for consumption or use by the band or the council of the band. Bands and band councils are not eligible to claim the point‑of‑sale rebate in cases where the property or services are not for the use of the band or council of the band.

To view samples of valid Certificate of Indian Status cards, see RST Tax Tip 2, Certificate of Indian Status Identity Cards.

Vendor responsibilities

Vendors must do all of the following:

  • Ensure that the items being purchased qualify for the rebate
  • Visually confirm that the Certificate of Indian Status card displays the purchaser’s photograph (note – the card must be presented at every purchase), and
  • Record the transaction date, purchaser's name, card number, band registry number, and a brief description of the goods sold. These records should be kept for audit purposes.

If the purchaser presents a Temporary Confirmation of Registration Document issued by the federal government, rather than a Certificate of Indian Status card, the seller must validate by:

  • Viewing a piece of government identification with the person’s picture (e.g., driver’s licence) to confirm his/her name matches the name on the temporary document, and
  • Confirming the temporary document has a raised seal of the Indian Registrar (bottom right side of the document).

A photocopy of the Temporary Confirmation of Registration Document is not acceptable. The Temporary Confirmation of Registration Document will be deemed null and void if altered in any way.

Other cards (e.g., band cards, Métis cards) are not permitted to support the First Nations HST Point-of-Sale Rebate.

HST rebates

When the Ontario First Nations point‑of‑sale rebate is not provided by the vendor

First Nation individuals with a status card, bands and band councils of an Ontario First Nations reserve that have paid the eight per cent Ontario component of the HST on or after September 1, 2010 on acquisitions or importations by mail or courier of qualifying property or services, may claim a rebate by submitting an Application for Ontario HST Rebate for First Nations on or after September 1, 2010 form to the Ontario Ministry of Finance.

First Nation individuals, families and bands and band councils are encouraged to accumulate receipts and file one application respectively rather than multiple applications for small rebate amounts.

Rebate applications must include original receipts for qualifying property or services and a photocopy of both sides of the Certificate of Indian Status card, or in the case of bands and band councils of an Ontario First Nations reserve, a letter from the band or council certifying the qualifying property or services are exclusively for consumption or use by the band or the council of the band.

Applications for rebate of HST paid in Ontario, or for qualifying goods imported into Canada must be submitted within four years from the date the tax was paid. Applications for rebate of HST paid in another participating province but imported into Ontario within 30 days, must be submitted within one year from the date the qualifying goods were imported into Ontario. All rebate applications should be submitted to the:

Ministry of Finance
33 King Street West
PO Box 625
Oshawa ON  L1H 8E9

Rebates of all other HST paid in error

In all other circumstances where the Ontario component of the HST is paid in error (including where the supplier failed to grant an Ontario HST point‑of‑sale rebate on the designated items of print newspapers, qualifying prepared food and beverages, printed books, children's goods and feminine hygiene products), First Nation individuals with a status card, bands and band councils of an Ontario First Nations reserve must apply to the CRA for a rebate. For instructions on how to claim a rebate of HST paid in error, contact the CRA at 1‑800‑959‑5525.

More information

For information on how GST/HST registrant vendors are required to report the Ontario First Nations point‑of‑sale rebate, please review GST/HST Info Sheet GI‑106, Ontario First Nations Point‑of‑Sale Relief – Reporting Requirements for GST/HST Registrant Suppliers. It should be noted that these reporting requirements relate only to the Ontario First Nations point‑of‑sale rebate and not to any exemptions under the GST/HST framework by virtue of section 87 of the Indian Act (Canada), or to situations where an Ontario HST point‑of‑sale rebate on certain designated items applies.

For further information, please contact the CRA directly at 1‑800‑959‑5525.

RST point‑of‑sale exemption

Exemption scope

Retail Sales Tax (RST) continues to apply to a very limited number of items after June 30, 2010.

Private purchases of specified vehicles

Effective July 1, 2010, 13 per cent RST is payable on specified vehicles purchased privately (e.g., from a person that is not a GST/HST registrant). Specified vehicles are:

Effective September 1, 2010, First Nation individuals with a status card, bands and band councils of an Ontario First Nations reserve may transfer specified vehicles purchased privately off‑reserve exempt from RST.

First Nation individuals with a status card who purchase specified vehicles privately may claim an exemption from the 13 per cent RST by showing their Certificate of Indian Status card, when registering the vehicle at a Driver and Vehicle Licence Issuing Office or a ServiceOntario Centre.

Bands and band councils of an Ontario First Nations reserve may claim the exemption by providing a letter certifying the vehicle is exclusively for the consumption or use of the band or the council of the band.

Insurance and benefit plans

Ontario will continue its application of tax at a rate of eight per cent on the same types of insurance premiums that were taxed under RST before July 1, 2010. Insurance that was exempt from RST prior to July 1, 2010, such as automobile insurance premiums, will continue to be exempt from RST after June 30, 2010. Certain costs and fees, such as administration fees for benefit plans, that are subject to HST will be exempt from RST.

The eight per cent RST does not apply to contracts of insurance entered into by First Nation individuals with a status card, bands or band councils of an Ontario First Nations reserve in respect of real or personal property located on a reserve. However, RST of eight per cent will apply to premiums in respect of property located off‑reserve as it did prior to July 1, 2010.

If a First Nation individual resides on a reserve and works for an employer located off‑reserve, the premium payments made by both the First Nation individual with a status card and the employer for group insurance are exempt from the eight per cent RST as it was prior to July 1, 2010. If the First Nation individual with a status card resides off‑reserve, then RST will apply to both the employer and employee portions of the premiums paid into a benefits plan where applicable.

Purchaser and vendor responsibilities

First Nation individuals must show a valid Certificate of Indian Status card to claim the exemption on the purchase of specified vehicles or taxable insurance contracts from vendors. Purchasers must acquire or import the vehicle exclusively for their personal use or consumption. The insurance contract must qualify for an RST exemption.

Bands and band councils of an Ontario First Nations reserve must present written certification (e.g., a letter on band letterhead signed by an authorized representative of the band) that the specified vehicle is exclusively for consumption or use by the band or the council of the band and the insurance contract qualifies for an RST exemption.

The point‑of‑sale exemption should not be claimed when specified vehicles or taxable insurance contracts are acquired for other purposes.

Insurance vendors should visually confirm that the photograph on the status card is that of the purchaser. From the information provided on the card, vendors should record the date, person's name, card number, band registry number, and a brief description of the insurance contract sold. Where the sale is to a band or band of an Ontario First Nation reserve, vendors should retain the certification provided for the exemption. These records should be kept for audit purposes.

RST rebates

First Nation individuals with a status card, bands and band councils of an Ontario First Nation reserve who have incorrectly paid RST may apply to the Ontario Ministry of Finance for a rebate by completing the Application for Rebate of Retail Sales Tax on Insurance or Benefit Plan Premiums.

Rebate applications must include original receipts for qualifying purchases and a photocopy of both sides of the Certificate of Indian Status card, or in the case of bands and band councils of an Ontario First Nation reserve, a letter from the band or council certifying that the specified vehicle or insurance premium are exclusively for consumption or use by the band or the council of the band. Rebate applications must be submitted within four years from the date the tax was paid to the:

Ministry of Finance
33 King Street West
PO Box 625
Oshawa ON  L1H 8E9

More information

Telephone

Contact the Ontario Ministry of Finance at:

  • 1‑866‑ONT‑TAXS (1‑866‑668‑8297)
  • 1‑800‑263‑7776 for teletypewriter (TTY)

Written interpretation

To obtain a written interpretation on a specific situation not addressed in this publication, please send your request in writing to:

Ministry of Finance
Advisory Services
33 King Street West
Oshawa ON  L1H 8H5


FAQs - Ontario portion of the HST rebate program for First Nations

Why did the ministry make changes to the Ontario portion of the HST rebate program for First Nations?

The changes were administrative only and do not affect the entitlement of qualifying First Nations individuals to:

  • a point‑of‑sale rebate of the 8% Ontario component of the HST on qualifying property and services, or
  • request a rebate from the ministry where a business is unwilling or unable to provide the rebate at point‑of‑sale.

These administrative changes were made to help the ministry process rebates faster for people who submit claims.

What administrative changes were made to the rebate program that affect me?

Changes were made to make the application form and instructions clearer. A 100 receipt limit per application has also been implemented to improve processing times, which may help you receive your rebate sooner.

What happens if I would like to submit more than 100 receipts at a time?

The 100 receipt limit is per application. You may file more than one rebate application at a time. Applications submitted with more than 100 receipts will still be processed. However, this may adversely impact processing times.

What happens if I use the old form to file a claim?

Claims received on the old rebate application will still be processed.

Why does the ministry require original receipts? Shouldn’t a photocopy be enough?

The ministry requires original receipts to help verify receipt authenticity.

How do I get my receipts back from the ministry?

The ministry will return all receipts submitted with every application. If a receipt is required for warranty purposes please keep a copy for your records.

Are businesses required by law to provide the rebate at point‑of‑sale?

No, it is not mandatory for businesses to provide the rebate at point‑of‑sale.

Can businesses require eligible purchasers to provide personal information (e.g. name, email, phone number, and home address) before providing the rebate?

The law does not require businesses to obtain a purchaser’s postal code or other information such as signature, telephone number, email or home address to validate a rebate. However, the law pertaining to the rebate does not specifically prohibit the collection of additional information that may support a business process.

A business that chooses to provide the rebate is required to visually confirm that the photograph on the status card matches the purchaser, and at a minimum, record the date, name, card number, band registry number and a brief description of the property or services sold.

What if I don’t want to provide additional information that a business asks for?

First, confirm whether the business will still provide the rebate if you don’t provide the additional information.

Where a business is unwilling or unable to provide the rebate at point‑of‑sale, eligible purchasers may apply for a rebate directly from the Ministry of Finance.

Will the ministry contact me by phone to discuss the rebate?

We may, on occasion, contact rebate applicants by phone to obtain further clarification about the receipts they submitted or the information they provided on the rebate application. This helps us process your rebate application sooner.

We appreciate concerns related to telephone scams. Ministry staff will clearly state who is calling and will provide a ministry call‑back number if necessary. Ministry staff will not ask for credit card information, banking information or any details unrelated to the rebate application over the phone.

If the rebate applicant does not wish to discuss the details of their application over the phone, they may request that the caller follow up by writing a letter instead.

Are businesses outside Ontario eligible to offer the Ontario First Nations HST point‑of‑sale rebate?

No. The rebate at point‑of‑sale may only be offered by businesses located in Ontario.

However, you may be eligible for a rebate directly from the Ministry of Finance if HST was paid on qualifying goods that were imported into Ontario. Please note that this may only apply if HST was paid, and not for other provincial sales taxes. Please contact the ministry at 1‑866‑ONT‑TAXS (1‑866‑668‑8297) for further advice.

How much time do I have to file a rebate application?

Applications for rebate of HST paid in Ontario must generally be submitted within four years from the date the tax was paid.

However, the time frame may be much shorter (e.g., one year) for certain imports into Ontario. Please contact the ministry at 1‑866‑ONT‑TAXS (1‑866‑668‑8297) for further advice.

What if I have more questions about the Ontario First Nations HST point‑of‑sale rebate or the status of my rebate application?

Contact the ministry at 1‑866‑ONT‑TAXS (1‑866‑668‑8297).

We have additional information online at the following links:

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