The Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is a consumption tax that combines the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) with a provincial sales tax in certain Canadian provinces. The goal of harmonizing these taxes is to streamline tax administration and create a more uniform system across the country. The HST applies to a wide range of goods and services and is collected by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on behalf of participating provinces.

Key features of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) include:

1. **Combination of Taxes:**
– The HST combines the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST), which is levied by the Canadian government, with the provincial sales tax (PST) of participating provinces. This creates a single, harmonized tax system.

2. **Participating Provinces:**
– The provinces that participate in the HST system include:
– Ontario
– New Brunswick
– Newfoundland and Labrador
– Nova Scotia
– Prince Edward Island

3. **Tax Rates:**
– The HST is levied at a combined rate, which includes both the federal GST rate and the applicable provincial rate. The total tax rate varies by province. For example, as of my last update, Ontario has a combined HST rate of 13%, with 5% representing the federal portion and 8% representing the provincial portion.

4. **Exempt and Zero-Rated Items:**
– While many goods and services are subject to the HST, certain items may be exempt or zero-rated. Exempt items are not subject to the tax, while zero-rated items are taxed at a rate of 0%. Examples of zero-rated items might include basic groceries and prescription drugs.

5. **Tax Credits:**
– The HST system provides for input tax credits (ITCs), allowing businesses to recover the tax they pay on inputs and costs related to their business activities. This helps prevent the taxation of business inputs, promoting economic efficiency.

6. **Registration and Filing:**
– Businesses that meet certain criteria are required to register for the HST and collect the tax on taxable supplies. They must also file regular HST returns with the Canada Revenue Agency.

7. **Public Perception:**
– The introduction of the HST in some provinces has been met with mixed public reactions. While it streamlines tax administration for businesses, the impact on consumers depends on the types of goods and services they regularly purchase.

It’s important to note that tax regulations can change. Individuals and businesses should consult with tax authorities or professionals for the most current and specific information regarding the Harmonized Sales Tax in their region.