Tax-Free "Food"

In my Practice Management class, we talked about taxable goods. Did you know that food is non-taxable? ...but there is a catch, because most "foods" that you would label as "food" actually don't qualify. Only real food is non-taxable. Chips, pop, candy, frozen dinners, frozen pizzas, packaged snacks, cookies, etc, are not considered to be "food" and are thus taxed.  This is an example of how eating healthy can be much cheaper that eating poorly; you don't pay tax on real food!

Non-taxable products (in Canada):
  • basic groceries such as flour, sugar, spices, breads, cereals, eggs, butter, margarine, cheese, peanut butter, jam, honey, fruits, vegetables, milk, and yogurt
  • prepared foods sold by an eating establishment for $4 or less
  • children's clothing (including diapers)
  • footwear costing $30 or less
  • feminine hygiene products
  • newspapers
  • drugs and medicine sold under a doctor's prescription
  • goods designed solely for people with physical disabilities
  • vitamins and minerals. 
...and that's it.  No junk food allowed. All packaged goods are subject to taxation.

You can print out this list and take it with you next time you are grocery shopping. Try to only buy "food"; you'll save both money (tax-free!) and your health (processed-free!). 


  1. I'm confused, there are things on your list that I have paid tax on?


  2. I know that in NS, children's clothes and diapers (well at least cloth diapers) are charged GST but not HST. So still some tax there! Neat article today!

  3. @PJ and M - no, these items are tax free!

  4. I read something unsettling a few years back, when poor harvests were putting upward pressure on the price of grains:

    The article said that while the higher prices would have a large impact on people in other parts of the world, Canadians would not notice too much of a change because most of what we eat is not really food!



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