Charging GST to Foreign Clients

I have a fairly new content marketing company offering content marketing solutions to companies looking to expand their online presence. I am wondering if I need to charge GST to my clients, most of whom are based in Europe and pay me in euros. Most of the websites that the content gets published on are based in the US and Europe, but some are based in Canada.

According to the Exports - Services and Intellectual Property page on Canada.ca, “a supply of a service of advertising made to a non-resident person who is not registered for purposes of the GST/HST at the time the service is performed is zero-rated.” To me, this seems like I don’t need to charge GST, but when I recently called the CRA GST Ruling Department to confirm, the answer I received to quite a few of my questions was “it depends” because there are all sorts of conditions and exceptions—which only left me feeling more confused.

I need to get clear, definitive answers to this, as I have paused invoicing my clients lest I find out I should be charging them the GST and will have to pay it out of pocket later.

Can anyone here shed some light on this for me? Thanks in advance!

Services rendered and billed to clients outside Canada are not taxable.

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I’m afraid you need to find someone with specific expertise. They probably won’t work for nothing, nor should you.

From “biztyke via protaxcommunity.com” <notifications@taxcycle.discoursemail.com>
To neal@nealnicholson.ca
Date 2022-11-14 11:35:44 AM
Subject [protaxcommunity.com] Charging GST to Foreign Clients

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You really should consult an accountant with the specific expertise in that area. Most don’t have it, so ask up front. And expect to pay for their expertise, as you would charge for yours.

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Yes, that’s what I’ve been finding challenging. It’s proving much harder to find someone who has expertise in this specific area than I thought it’d be. But I do have a few leads that will hopefully be able to sort me out. Thanks for chiming in.

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Did you try the Revenue Canada website?

Try in what sense?

https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/cra-arc/formspubs/pub/rc4022/rc4022-22e.pdf

Page 51 and 52

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Clients outside of Canada are not taxable. I used to sell a lot of DVD’s especially to US customers. No PST or GST

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I work with some organizations that, for the past several decades, have supplied services to certain non-resident organizations. Despite the fact that some activities of those non-resident actors are “related” to Canada and Canadian activities, the recipients of the services are factually non-residents and the activities of the Canadian “suppliers” are all zero-rated. They have been audited several times, all without adjustment.

Your best bet for this is not an accountant, but a tax lawyer who deals in excise tax matters.

Structure is important as are the details of the types of transactions and contractual relationships, but generally, most of what you do will be zero-rated. The question is whether there is a carve-out of certain activities that may either be “exempt” or “taxable”.

This forum is inadequate for answering your query for the same reason I can’t provide more detail about my clients’ structures: it’s public.

Go hire a legal tax pro. Yes, it will cost real money. Google “excise tax lawyers canada” and move forward.

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Best answer!

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Thanks so much for the thoughtful response—much appreciated!

Based on what several accountants and others (including you) have told me the past few days, I am quite confident that the vast majority of the kind of transactions I provide would all be zero-rated.

If I come up against any specific questions in certain contexts that I think could be exempted, I will definitely reach out to an excise tax lawyer, as you recommended. Good to know what and who I should look for now!

Lots of great, detailed scenarios listed here. Thanks for that!