Returnable Containers

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Deposits on beverage containers

Generally, deposits on beverage containers are not GST- or QST-taxable. For more information, refer to GST/HST technical information bulletin B-089, Returnable Containers, on the Government of Canada website.

Deposits on other returnable containers

Other returnable containers or packages, such as oil drums and helium or oxygen cylinders, are generally considered to be part of the goods they contain, and the taxes apply to the container or package in the same way as they do to its contents. For example, a container filled with medical oxygen is zero-rated, because medical oxygen is zero-rated; if sold empty, such a container is subject to 5% GST and 9.975% QST.

When a container or package is returned, it can be treated in one of two ways:

  • The purchaser of the container or package is deemed to have resold it to the original supplier. If the purchaser is a registrant, the purchaser must collect GST and QST from the supplier. The supplier, if registered, can claim an input tax credit (ITC) and an input tax refund (ITR) for the taxes paid on repurchasing the container or package.
  • The amount paid by the supplier on the return of the container or package is deemed a refund made by the supplier to the purchaser.

    The supplier credits or refunds the purchaser for the GST and QST paid at the time of purchase and provides a credit or debit note. In addition, the supplier can deduct the GST and QST amounts credited or refunded in the calculation of the supplier's net tax for the period in which the note was provided. The purchaser must include those amounts in its net tax.

    The supplier and purchaser can choose not to follow the refund rules listed above. In such a case, the supplier must refund the deposit paid on the package or container to the purchaser. However, the supplier does not have to refund the GST and QST paid at the time of purchase if both the supplier and purchaser are registrants and remitted the GST and QST to us or claimed an ITC and ITR for the GST and QST paid.

Where goods are sold in a container or package other than the one in which they are usually sold, and the package or container is sold with the goods as a single item, the following rules apply:

  • If the package or container can be considered incidental to the goods, the GST and QST will apply to the package or container if the taxes apply to the contents (except if the contents are zero-rated).
  • If the package or container cannot be considered incidental to the goods, it is subject to GST and QST separately from its contents. In this case, the taxes must be collected on the portion of the sale price that pertains to the package or container.

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