The Canadian Government announced on September 25 the elimination of the Canadian Goods and Services Tax Visitors’ Rebate Program, which will affect rebates on hotel stays for meeting attendees as well as some other rebates that meeting organizers and exhibitors have been eligible for. Currently, the Visitor Rebate Program reimburses travelers for the GST and the federal component of the Harmonized Sales Tax they pay on eligible goods and short-term accommodations.

The government is calling to eliminate the program, effective April 1, 2007, but some of the elements specific to meetings and conventions won’t take effect until April 1, 2009. Registration fees that U.S. meeting-goers pay to attend U.S.-organized meetings in Canada, for example, are still exempt from the GST.

Under the proposal, nonresidents may still qualify for a rebate after the effective date if a written agreement covering that rebate was signed before the announcement date.

In addition, the current one-year period to claim a rebate would continue to apply, including rebates spelled out in hotel contracts that were signed prior to the announcement date if the meeting is to take place before April 1, 2009.

The language from the Canada Revenue Agency regarding conventions hosted by non-Canadian sponsors or organizers is as follows:

  • Sponsors and Organizers

  • Sponsors and organizers of foreign conventions in Canada (generally conventions where at least 75 percent of participants are non-residents and the sponsor is a non-resident) would no longer be eligible for a rebate of GST that pertain to a convention site (for example, convention center rental fees), or convention supplies relating to a convention in Canada that begins after March 31, 2007.
  • This GST rebate would continue to be available for supplies relating to a foreign convention in Canada that begins before April 1, 2009, if the supplies were made under a written agreement entered into before the announcement date.
  • Attendees/registrations

  • Under the proposed amendments, non-residents would be required to pay GST on the full admission price to a Canadian convention that begins after March 31, 2007. But admissions to foreign conventions would not be subject to GST.
  • Exhibitors

  • Currently, non-resident exhibitors at a Canadian or foreign convention are either not required to pay GST or are eligible for a rebate of GST in regard to use of the convention site and any related convention supplies acquired by the exhibitor in relation to the convention.
  • In the case of foreign conventions, no GST is applicable to a convention site or related convention supplies supplied to an exhibitor by the sponsor of the foreign convention. However, if the supplier is not the sponsor of the foreign convention, the non-resident exhibitors would no longer be eligible for a rebate of GST in respect of any supply for the use of a convention site or related convention supplies.
  • The existing rules would continue to apply to non-resident exhibitor fees relating to a convention in Canada that begins before April 1, 2009, if the supplies were made under a written agreement entered into before the announcement date.

Look for more details in an upcoming issue of Association Meetings magazine.