Published | Category: GST and QST

Exempt Acupuncture Services

Acupuncture services provided to an individual by an acupuncture practitioner after February 11, 2014, are GST- and QST-exempt.

Acupuncture services

For the purposes of the GST and QST, an acupuncture service is a service that involves the stimulation of specific pressure points on the skin, mucous membranes or subcutaneous tissues of the human body and other therapeutic techniques to:

  • promote, maintain or restore health;
  • prevent a disorder or disease; or
  • alleviate pain.

An acupuncture service can include assessments, acupuncture treatments (needle, electro, laser and other modern modalities), and acupressure (involving heat, laser or needles). An acupuncture service does not, however, include administrative duties, research activities and teaching.

If an acupuncture practitioner renders a service that is not an acupuncture service, or renders a service that is beyond his or her scope of practice, GST and QST will apply, unless the service is otherwise exempt or zero-rated (taxable at the rate of 0%). Registrants must collect GST and QST. Services rendered can include services that are a form of alternative medicine, such as:

  • Bowen therapy;
  • ear candling;
  • Hakomi therapy; and
  • herbal therapy.

When in doubt, an acupuncture practitioner must refer to his or her professional order, professional association or provincial legislation to determine whether the service is within the scope of practice for an acupuncturist. 

Services rendered to an individual

Only services rendered to an individual within a practitioner-patient relationship are GST- and QST-exempt. A practitioner-patient relationship means that the practitioner is a direct care provider of the patient and that a relationship involving personal interaction between the practitioner and the patient has been established.

Practitioner of acupuncture

For the purpose of the application of the GST and QST, an acupuncture practitioner is a person who practices the profession of acupuncturist and meets the following conditions:

  • is licenced or certified to practice the profession of acupuncturist by a provincially established regulatory body if the acupuncture service is rendered in a province that regulates the profession; or
  • has the qualifications equivalent to those necessary to be licenced or certified in another province if the acupuncture service is rendered in a province that does not regulate the profession.

In Québec, for the purpose of GST and QST, an acupuncture practitioner is a person who holds a permit issued by l'Ordre des acupuncteurs du Québec.

Other conditions

In order for an acupuncture service to be GST- and QST-exempt, it must be a qualifying healthcare service rendered for any of the following purposes:

  • maintaining health;
  • preventing disease;
  • treating, relieving or remedying an injury, an illness, a disorder or a disability;
  • assisting (other than financially) an individual in coping with an injury, an illness, a disorder or a disability; or
  • providing palliative healthcare.

In addition, an acupuncture service, and any related services or property, must be provided for medical or reconstructive purposes only, and not for cosmetic purposes.    

Acupuncture services that do not qualify as healthcare services, or are cosmetic, do not qualify for exemption and are generally subject to GST and QST.  

For more information on qualifying healthcare services, refer to Notice 286, Draft GST/HST Policy Statement: Qualifying Health Care Supplies and the Application of Section 1.2 of Part II of Schedule V to the Excise Tax Act to the Supply of Medical Examinations, Reports and Certificates.

Other exemptions

A service that is typically rendered by an acupuncturist may be rendered by another healthcare professional licenced within the scope of practice for his or her principal profession to perform acupuncture as an adjunct treatment if such an exemption is provided for by law. For example, doctors in Québec may perform acupuncture services within the scope of their practice. In such a case, since doctors' services are GST- and QST-exempt, this service is exempt.

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