Understanding and Utilizing the GST/HST Credit for Lower Income Canadians

The Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) Credit is a quarterly payment designed to help lower-income Canadians offset the GST or HST they pay on goods and services. This tax-free credit provides vital financial support to individuals and families who meet certain income thresholds, ensuring that the consumption taxes they face do not disproportionately affect their financial well-being. Here’s how to understand and make the most of the GST/HST Credit.

  • Residency: You must be a resident of Canada for income tax purposes.
  • Age: You must be at least 19 years old, or have (or previously had) a spouse or common-law partner, or be (or have been) a parent and live (or previously lived) with your child.
  • Income Threshold: Eligibility for the GST/HST Credit is determined by your adjusted family net income. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) automatically reviews your income each year when you file your tax return to determine your eligibility.

How It Works:

  • Automatic Assessment: If you’re eligible for the GST/HST Credit, the CRA will automatically calculate your payment based on your income tax and benefit return. There’s no need to apply separately; filing your taxes is sufficient.
  • Payment Schedule: The credit is paid in quarterly installments in July, October, January, and April. The amount you receive depends on your income level, marital status, and how many children you have.

Maximizing Your Benefit:

  • File Your Tax Return Annually: Even if you have no income or your income is below the threshold requiring you to file, you must submit a tax return every year to be assessed for the GST/HST Credit.
  • Update Your Personal Information: Keep your personal information up to date with the CRA, including your marital status and the number of children in your care, as these factors impact your eligibility and the amount of your credit.
  • Direct Deposit Enrollment: Enroll in direct deposit with the CRA to receive your payments faster and more securely.

Eligibility Criteria:

Important Considerations:

  • Couples: Only one spouse or common-law partner can receive the credit for the family. The CRA pays the credit to the person whose tax return is assessed first.
  • Change in Circumstances: If your circumstances change (e.g., marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child), notify the CRA promptly to ensure your GST/HST Credit is accurately calculated.
  • Provincial Credits: In addition to the federal GST/HST Credit, you may also be eligible for related provincial credits, which the CRA will automatically assess you for.


The GST/HST Credit is a critical component of Canada’s social support system, offering financial relief to those who need it most. By understanding how the credit works and ensuring you meet the eligibility requirements, you can take full advantage of this benefit to help offset the GST or HST you pay throughout the year. Always ensure your tax filings are up to date and consult the CRA’s resources or a tax professional if you have questions about your specific situation.

Now What?

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