Good’s and Services Tax (GST)
Any purchase on accommodations, restaurants, merchandise, etc., will have a Good’s and Services Tax (GST) tacked on. This tax is listed on every receipt, and once your vacation is over you may be able to retrieve some of the money back, so keep your receipts. However, since my parents last visited Niagara Falls, the policy for retrieving the GST has changed.
First and foremost, you can’t get the GST back on food, entertainment, or alcohol. This leaves accommodations and merchandise. Before you retrieve your GST for your hotel bill at the hotel desk, ask if there is a charge. For example, we stayed at the Embassy and upon check out the hotel offered to return our GST, however, they were going to charge us C$10 in order to do this transaction. If this is the case, take your receipt to the duty-free store at the border and retrieve your GST there. They will not charge you for the service.
Second and probably the most confusing, is the fact that in order to retrieve the GST on merchandise each individual receipt must to be greater then C$50 before taxes. Therefore, if I spent $49.80 at a local gift shop I could not retrieve the GST on that receipt. Remember, the receipt has to total more then C$50 before taxes, in order to receive the GST for that receipt. In addition, you must have spent over C$200 total to receive the GST. For example, If I made a purchase for C$64.23 at a gift shop and I did no more shopping while I was in Canada (even though my total was over $50 for that one receipt), I couldn’t receive the GST back because I had not purchased $200 worth of goods. In order for me to have received the tax I would have had to have the initial $64.23 receipt along with say a purchase of $84.30 and one for $72.40 (just as examples), which when added together would equal C$220.93. All three receipts were over $50 before taxes and when added together equaled more then C$200.
Retrieving this money is very confusing and I seen a lot of people walk away from the desk at the duty free store with no money and very angry, because they were unaware of these rules. One suggestion I have is if you are going with other people and you are all shopping at the same store purchase all of your merchandise together on one receipt, or just buy more then $200 worth of clothes (this is always my first choice). I hope this explanation helps.