There has been much speculation on how Canada will tax cannabis, which is expected to be legalized for retail sale in Canada by July 2018. The much anticipated draft tax legislation was released by the Department of Finance on Friday November 10, 2017, and is out for consultation until December 7, 2017.
Proposed Tax Regime
Under the proposed cannabis tax regime, most supplies of cannabis will be subject to GST/HST (at rates currently ranging from 5-15% across Canada). Cannabis, both for recreational or medical use, will also be taxed under the Excise Act, 2001 (Canada) (the “Act”), which currently imposes federal excise duty on spirits, wine and tobacco product made in Canada. Both taxes on cannabis will be administered by the Canada Revenue Agency.
Similarly to the current GST/HST regime, the provinces and territories will be offered the option of joining the federal tax regime for cannabis taxation, in which case the excise duty on cannabis will be made up of the federal rate, plus an additional rate for the participating province or territory. The division of tax revenues is currently under discussion between the federal government and the provinces, which will be responsible for controlling the distribution and retail sales of cannabis in each province. In this regard, the federal government has indicated its goal of setting the maximum total excise duty rate at the greater of $1 per gram or 10 per cent of the sale price of the product.