When going to some stores, such as Walmart, there is a sign at every till: If you are tax exempt, please let us know before the first item is scanned.

What qualifies as being tax exempt? Can anyone take advantage of this legally? Or are there strict requirements we'd have to prove?

  • 1
    Not sure about Canada, but in the US, state governments often exempt their own agencies from sales tax. If you are a state government employee making purchases on behalf of your employer, they can give you a certificate of sales tax exemption. Then when you run down to Walmart to buy stuff for the office, you show them the certificate, and they don't charge you sales tax. Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 22:01
  • @Knuckle-Dragger In Canada business are not people too. Commented Apr 8, 2015 at 1:32
  • I have seen this applied to church groups buying food and supplies for the poor. (in the US) The tellers need to know to be able to fill out some supporting paperwork. Commented Apr 8, 2015 at 19:33

3 Answers 3


The short answer is you're tax exempt if the tax laws say you are. There are a bunch of specific exemptions based on who you are, what you're buying and why.

Taking British Columbia as an example. One exemption is supplies for business use:

Some exemptions are only available to certain purchasers in certain circumstances. These exemptions include:

  • Goods purchased solely for resale or lease
  • Software or telecommunication services purchased solely for resale
  • Goods or software purchased to be incorporated into goods for resale

You can also claim an exemption if you are buying "adult size" clothing for a child under 15 years.

Farmers are exempt from sales tax on various goods and services.

First Nations individuals are exempt in some circumstances.

And so on and so on.

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    The native status detail is very complex. If you're a retailer, you need to know what the current local practice is inside-out. cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/gst-tps/frstntns/menu-eng.html There are misunderstandings, even with people who have the native status card. Retailers need to take down information carefully to get the money back from the government.
    – mgjk
    Commented Apr 8, 2015 at 15:47
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    "You can also claim an exemption if you are buying "adult size" clothing for a child under 15 years." That's crazy. And the link is dead.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 23:23
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    @RonJohn Seems pretty reasonable to me: it's common to have a separate tax status for children's clothing, which in an ideal world would be defined as "clothing worn by children", but is more practical to define as "clothing below a certain size". That leads to edge cases on both sides: larger children paying too much tax because they need "adult" sizes, and smaller adults paying too little tax because they fit in "child" sizes. The rule mentioned is trying to adjust for one of those edge cases, by allowing adult-sized clothes with the point-of-sale tax that applies to children's clothes.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 10:44
  • @IMSoP I've never heard of such a think. From my research, it might be a Canadian (or at least non-American) thing.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 14:29
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    @RonJohn Like I say, tax-exempting children's clothes is fairly common I think; they're zero-rated for VAT in the UK for instance. Extending that to adult clothes bought for children sounds difficult to administer, but not all that surprising.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 14:35

Note that folks may also be shopping for supplies for a nonprofit tax-exempt organization. I made such a purchase a few weeks ago.

Whatever the legal basis of the exception, you need to be able to prove to the store that you have it. If you can't, they must collect the tax.


The answer is if you are native, you get a native status card and you are exempt from paying taxes. I know this because my husband is native and uses a native status card (and we live in Canada), at Walmart and they need to enter the number before any of your items are scanned so that's why they have the signs up because people will give the card usually after everything has been scanned and that's ok at most stores but Walmart needs to enter it first so that is why they have the signs and that is how people are exempt from paying tax. You have to be native of course to get native status and be exempt from taxes, your not exempt from ALL tax but most of it.

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