To comply with new Canadian tax laws, beginning in November 2021, Upwork will collect Goods and Services Tax (GST) on purchases and fees from freelancers in Canada unless they have provided their GST/HST or QST number to us.

Canada’s GST is a value-added tax, a type of sales tax. The Canadian government assesses GST of 5% on digital services, including those provided by Upwork. Provinces assess a similar tax — because of this, overall GST/HST rates vary by province (see “Taxes by Province” below).

The good news is that you can control whether we collect the GST/HST or QST from you (PST in BC, SK, MB will apply to all users in those provinces without exception). If you have a GST/HST or QST number and have it on file with us, we are not required to collect the tax from you. We will begin collecting GST/HST and QST numbers beginning in September 2021. Add your number(s) on this page

If you don’t have a GST/HST or QST number, we will be required to assess the tax on the following:

  • Freelancer service fees (not your earnings)
  • Connects purchases
  • Membership fees, such as for our Freelancer Plus plan
  • The payment processing fees you pay for Direct Contracts

Note that Upwork only collects GST/HST or QST for purchases and fees you make with us. We do not collect GST/HST from your clients on your behalf. If you are required to collect GST/HST or QST from your clients, that is your responsibility.

 

Taxes by Province

Your precise tax burden under the new law will vary depending on your location when Upwork provides services to you.

These taxes are levied both at the national and provincial level. Because each province’s laws are different, your tax will fall into one of these four categories: 

  • GST only, collected by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
  • Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) — Both national and provincial taxes are combined into a single tax which is then collected by the CRA
  • GST plus provincial sales taxes (PST) — Each collected separately by the appropriate government body
  • GST plus Quebec Sales Tax (QST) — Each collected separately by the appropriate government body

The chart below shows which combination of national and provincial taxes are collected on a per-province basis.

 

Province Type Nat’l. rate Prov. rate Total Tax Rate

AB

GST

5%

0%

5%

BC

GST/PST

5%

7%

12%

MB

GST/PST

5%

7%

12%

NB

HST

5%

10%

15%

NL

HST

5%

10%

15%

NT

GST

5%

0%

5%

NS

HST

5%

10%

15%

NU

GST

5%

0%

5%

ON

HST

5%

8%

13%

PE

HST

5%

10%

15%

QC

GST/QST

5%

9.975%

14.975%

SK

GST/PST

5%

6%

11%

YT

GST

5%

0%

5%



GST does not apply to GST-registered users in the PST provinces — British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. In British Columbia and Saskatchewan, PST applies without exception. Manitoba’s PST law goes into effect December 2021 and may apply without an exception.

 

Calculating GST

When collection starts, you will be assessed the appropriate GST on fees for services provided by Upwork.

We will use the regular 20% freelancer fee as an example. If you earn $100 from a client, we will charge you the 20% freelancer fee, $20 in this example. Under Canadian law, GST is applied to that $20 fee. Here’s how that breaks down by province:

  • GST only — $1 in taxes will be collected from you for that transaction
  • HST — Between $2.60 and $3 will be collected
  • GST + PST — $1 for GST, between $1.20 and $1.40 for PST
  • GST + QST — $1 for GST, $2.00 for QST

Entering your GST/HST or QST Number

Upwork is required to collect Canadian GST and provincially equivalent taxes when our digital services are delivered to consumers. If you have a GST/HST and/or a QST number, you are not considered to be a consumer and therefore are not required to pay these taxes.

If your GST/HST or QST Number is not on file with us by the time we begin collecting GST in November, we will proceed as if you do not have one and will begin collecting these taxes from you. If you add your number at a later date, we will stop collecting these taxes at that time. GST/HST and QST validation can take several days — if entering your number after collection has already begun, we cannot stop collecting until verification is confirmed.

The validation process requires that the taxpayer name entered in the W-8BEN form (found under Settings > Tax Information) matches the name attached to your GST/HST number.

File your GST/HST or QST number with us here.

 

FAQs

When are Canadian GST (and other taxes) being collected?

We are rolling out product updates allowing us to collect the taxes; you can expect them to be withheld beginning in November 2021. 

What if I don’t add my number before collection begins? Can I add it later?
You can add your GST/HST or QST Number at any time beginning in September 2021. If GST tax collection begins before you add your number, we will be required to collect these taxes but will stop once you add your valid number.
What is GST?

GST is the Goods and Services Tax, a type of value-added tax levied by the Canadian government on various goods and services, including Upwork’s digital services.

What is HST?
HST is the Harmonized Sales Tax, a combination of GST and similar provincial-level taxes in Canada. It is a type of value-added tax levied on various goods and services, including the digital services that we offer. It’s currently levied in Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.
What is PST?
PST is Provincial Sales Tax, a type of value-added tax in Canada that is levied on various goods and services, including the digital services that we offer. It is levied, in addition to GST, in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
What is QST?
QST is Quebec Sales Tax, a type of value-added tax levied on various goods and services, including the digital services that we offer, in the Province of Quebec. It is levied in addition to GST.
Why is Upwork collecting Canadian GST (HST/QST/PST)?

A law was passed in Canada which requires non-resident businesses, such as Upwork, to collect GST and similar provincial-level taxes from individuals and businesses operating in Canada when they purchase taxable digital products or services. To comply with this law, we need to collect these taxes on the services we provide to freelancers, agencies, and clients in Canada and forward this tax to the Canadian tax authorities. We do not collect the tax on the payments clients make to their freelancers on Upwork. 

I'm exempt from paying GST in Canada. Are you still going to charge me?

Upwork is required to collect GST from Canadian consumers and Canadian businesses who are not registered under the normal GST/HST regime. If you have a GST/HST and/or QST Number, you are not considered a consumer by the Canadian government. Add your valid GST/HST or QST Number here and we will not collect this tax from you.


PST in British Columbia and Sasketchwan will apply to all transactions because there are currently no such exemptions in those provinces. Manitoba’s PST law goes into effect in December 2021 and may not apply without exception.

What if I'm only residing in Canada temporarily?

We are required to assess GST on services provided by our company to anyone receiving such services in Canada. This applies even if you are a digital nomad and only temporarily residing in Canada.


Any time you move to a different country, even if temporarily, you should update your tax residency information on Upwork. For example, if you move to and work from South Africa, you may be subject to South African laws. If you then move to Canada, Canadian GST will be assessed accordingly once you update your address. Please consult a tax professional if you have questions as to whether and how the GST applies to you and your business.
Can I use my Business Number?
No, you can’t — a business number does not exempt you from GST. To be exempt from GST, a GST/HST, or QST number is required. A Business Number is a completely separate business identifier and has no bearings on these taxes.
What is a GST/HST Number?
In Canada, a GST/HST number is a business identifier meant to help simplify tax dealings with the Canadian government. To learn more or to register for a GST/HST number, click here.
What is a QST Number?

In Canada, a QST Number is a business identifier meant to help simplify dealings with the Quebec provincial government. To learn more or to register for a QST Number, click here.

Please note that all value-added tax we collect is remitted directly to the government. We cannot refund taxes that we collected from you before you added your number.

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