Key Takeaways
  1. Halloween treats are considered snacks and are taxed in Canada.
  2. The sales tax charged on candy varies from province to territory. 
  3. Only buy your least favorite treats, to ensure they last until Halloween! 

For my kids, Halloween is a BIG deal. After weeks of planning their costumes, hours of scouring the neighborhood for treats and checking the haul for safety, the joy of the sort begins. Chips into one pile, chocolate bars into another, less attractive offerings into “the pile of disappointment”. Finally, full permission to eat candy until their heart’s content!

Because the house was empty while we were out hitting the streets for treats, I didn’t have to worry about goblins at my door until my kids were old enough to venture out without me. When that time came, I soon realized that the expense of providing candy to the neighborhood kids could easily break the bank. And then, of course, add the tax!

How much tax you pay on candy varies upon where you live. Because candy is considered to be a snack, 5% GST is charged in all provinces and territories. Depending on your location, the tax factor may not end there. The cost of a $10 (pre-tax) box of treat-size bars can vary greatly from province to province.

For trick-or-treaters without a territorial/provincial sales tax component (Yukon, Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Alberta), your out-the-door cost totals $10.50 as only GST is collected. Other provinces with a stand-alone provincial tax (not HST) such as Saskatchewan, Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba, each have their own rules and exemptions for candy. Your treats are exempt from provincial taxes in British Columbia, while Manitoba residents will tack on an extra 7% in RST (Retail Sales Tax) bringing the checkout total to $11.20. Quebecers will pay $11.50 after both GST and QST are applied.

Those of us living in HST collecting provinces also don’t fare well in the candy-tax department. In all four of the Atlantic Provinces, your candy is subject to HST. Your checkout total will be $11.50; Ontario also collects the full 13% HST on your treat purchase.

Unless you plan on handing out apples on Halloween (which truthfully get tossed out for safety concerns by most parents) you’re going to end up paying some sort of tax on your treats. I can offer one gem of advice to save a few dollars. Buy treats you don’t like. I can’t tell you how many mini chocolate bars were consumed in my household in the weeks leading up to Halloween. I wish I could blame the kids.