Saskatchewan introduces 6% PST on insurance premiums

November 16, 2017

As of August 1, 2017, the Saskatchewan PST tax applies to premiums, fees and charges for most insurance coverage including individual and group insurance such as life, mortgage, disability and supplemental health care (e.g. drugs, dental, vision or hearing care) coverage.

Similarly, PST will also apply to benefits plans including Administrative Services Only (ASO) arrangements, funded and unfunded benefit plans and qualifying trusts.

Individual permanent life insurance policies, including whole and universal life insurance, in effect prior to August 1, 2017, are exempt from PST, including all future premium payments with respect to these policies.

However, new individual permanent life insurance policies effective after July 31, 2017, will be subject to PST. Endorsements added to insurance contracts with an effective date prior to August1, 2017, are also not subject to PST.

Employee premiums under group insurance plans are taxable depending on both the place of employment and residency. An employee must live and work in Saskatchewan for the employee premiums to be taxable.

Taxability of Group Insurance Premiums
Where the employee lives Where the employee works Employer premiums Employee premiums
Saskatchewan Saskatchewan Taxable Taxable
Outside Saskatchewan Saskatchewan Taxable Exempt
Saskatchewan Outside Saskatchewan Exempt Exempt

SOURCE: Aon Hewitt Consulting

Where there is an Administrative Services Only (ASO) agreement (a contract between an employer and a third-party administrator), the premiums or payments to claimants can include dues, assessments, administrative costs and fees paid for the administration of the plan. PST will be collected on these charges and also on the premium or the payment of benefit amounts.

Several other provinces also currently charge retail sales tax on all insurance premiums including Ontario (8%) and Quebec (8%). Manitoba applies 8% RST only to life, disability, critical illness and AD&D premiums.

The polling firm, Insightrix, asked 802 respondents:  “How will your household change its insurance purchasing plans once PST is charged on all insurance premiums?” That question prompted the following responses:

  • 20.3%: Reduce insurance coverage (such as downgrading the level of home insurance coverage, purchasing less crop insurance, etc.)
  • 13.8%: Stop renewing some policies (such as cancelling a package policy on a vehicle)
  • 48.6%: Our household won’t change its insurance purchasing plans;
  • 25.4%: Not sure

“Charging the PST on insurance comes with an obvious risk,” says Todd MacKay, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation Prairie Director. “Hitting premiums with the PST will run up insurance costs by hundreds of dollars for families and thousands or tens of thousands of dollars for farmers and small businesses. More than a third of Saskatchewanians say they’ll have to reduce coverage or stop renewing some policies and that means people will have less protection when bad things happen.”

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.
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