Tutoring and Equivalent Services

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Tutoring and Equivalent Services

GST/HST Memorandum 20-6
December 2019

This memorandum cancels and replaces the following publication: GST/HST Policy Statement P-233, Tutoring or Instructing in Courses Approved for Credit by a School Authority.

This memorandum explains the provisions of the Excise Tax Act that pertain to exempt supplies of tutoring or instructing individuals.

In this publication, all legislative references to the “Act” are to the Excise Tax Act, unless otherwise specified. The information in this publication does not replace the law found in the Act and its regulations.

If this information does not completely address your particular situation, you may wish to refer to the Act or relevant regulation, or call GST/HST Rulings at 1-800-959-8287 for additional information. If you require certainty with respect to any particular GST/HST matter, you may request a ruling. GST/HST Memorandum 1-4, Excise and GST/HST Rulings and Interpretations Service, explains how to obtain a ruling or an interpretation and lists the GST/HST rulings centres.

If you are located in Quebec and wish to request a ruling related to the GST/HST, please call Revenu Québec at 1‑800‑567‑4692. You may also visit the Revenu Québec website at revenuquebec.ca to obtain general information.

For listed financial institutions that are selected listed financial institutions (SLFIs) for GST/HST or Quebec sales tax (QST) purposes or both, whether or not they are located in Quebec, the CRA administers the GST/HST and the QST. If you wish to make a technical GST/HST or QST enquiry related to SLFIs, please call 1‑855‑666‑5166.

GST/HST rates

Reference in this publication is made to supplies that are subject to the GST or the HST. The HST applies in the participating provinces at the following rates: 13% in Ontario and 15% in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. The GST applies in the rest of Canada at the rate of 5%. If you are uncertain as to whether a supply is made in a participating province, see GST/HST Technical Information Bulletin B‑103, Harmonized Sales Tax – Place of Supply Rules for Determining Whether a Supply is Made in a Province.

General

1. Supplies of many educational services, as well as certain specific supplies of related property and services, are exempt from the GST/HST. These exemptions are listed in Part III of Schedule V.

Tutoring and instructing

2. Section 9 of Part III of Schedule V exempts “a supply of a service of tutoring or instructing an individual in

  1. a course that is approved for credit by, or that follows a curriculum designated by, a school authority;
  2. a course that is a prescribed equivalent of a course described in paragraph (a); or
  3. a course the successful completion of which is mandatory for admittance into a particular course described in paragraph (a) or (b) and not for admittance into any other course that is a prerequisite to the particular course”.

3. Subsection 123(1) defines school authority to mean “an organization that operates an elementary or secondary school in which it provides instruction that meets the standards of educational instruction established by the government of the province in which the school is operated”.

4. For the purposes of the Act, the term province is interpreted to include a territory of Canada.

5. For information on the requirements that must be met in order to qualify as a school authority, refer to GST/HST Memorandum 20-1, School Authorities – Elementary and Secondary Schools.

6. Section 9 of Part III of Schedule V applies to services of tutoring or instructing individuals in courses offered at the elementary or secondary school level. The exemption under section 9 of Part III of Schedule V does not apply to services of tutoring or instructing individuals in courses offered at the post-secondary level (for example, college-level courses).

7. In order for the exemption in section 9 of Part III of Schedule V to apply, a supply of a service of tutoring or instructing must be rendered to an individual, but the recipient of the supply need not be that individual. The recipient of a supply generally means the person who is liable to pay the consideration for the supply. For example, the recipient of the supply may be the parent of the individual (the student) being tutored.

Courses approved for credit by, or that follow a curriculum designated by, a school authority

8. Under paragraph 9(a) of Part III of Schedule V, a supply of a service of tutoring or instructing an individual in a course that is approved for credit by, or that follows a curriculum designated by, a school authority is an exempt supply.

9. Courses that are approved for credit by a school authority are generally courses offered at the secondary school level. Courses that follow a curriculum designated by a school authority refers to courses for which credits may not be given but where there is a curriculum designated by a school authority. These courses are generally offered at the elementary school level. For example, reading, writing, spelling and math instruction are generally part of a school curriculum for lower grades. Tutoring or instruction in effective reading, writing, spelling and math for the purpose of assisting children in meeting the requirements of their school curriculum will generally meet the requirements of paragraph 9(a) of Part III of Schedule V.

10. The service of tutoring or instructing an individual need not be limited to material contained in a course approved for credit by, or that follows a curriculum designated by, a school authority. The tutoring or instructing of an individual could also include general concepts dealing with the relevant subject matter, or material from lower grades, in order to assist the individual in understanding the material contained in a course approved for credit by, or that follows a curriculum designated by, a school authority. For example, where an individual receives a service of tutoring or instruction in general math concepts to assist with material in a course that follows the provincial math curriculum, that service of tutoring or instruction is exempt under paragraph 9(a) of Part III of Schedule V. In order for the exemption to apply, it must be evident that there is some direct connection between the supply of the service of tutoring or instructing in question and the course approved for credit by, or the curriculum designated by, a school authority.


Example 1


Corporation X is a franchisee offering tutoring in reading proficiency through its Efficient Reading Course. The course emphasizes the basics in reading skills. Instruction in the Efficient Reading Course includes weekly lessons on comprehension and testing to support the acquisition of the skill. The course is not designed to follow the curriculum designated by a school authority nor is it a course that is approved for credit by a school authority. However, there is a strong connection between the tutoring provided under the Efficient Reading Course and a course approved for credit by, or curriculum designated by, a school authority.

Therefore, the supply of the service of tutoring or instruction in reading proficiency is exempt from the GST/HST under paragraph 9(a) of Part III of Schedule V on the basis that reading skills form part of the provincial education curriculum.

11. Some courses, although aimed specifically at elementary or secondary school students, may have no clearly defined relationship with any specific course offered by a school authority nor would they follow a curriculum designated by a school authority. For instance, a study-skills course may be designed for students who wish to improve their grades by focusing on different learning strategies, such as brain development, study habits, research skills, listening, note-taking, outlining and test taking. This type of course is general in nature and too broad to be considered to be related to the specific, relevant subject matter of any particular course offered by a school authority or to a curriculum designated by a school authority. Therefore, such courses are not exempt under section 9 of Part III of Schedule V.

12. Common characteristics of supplies that are not exempt under paragraph 9(a) of Part III of Schedule V include:

  • supplies where the tutor has negligible interaction with the student because the tutoring method is based on self-learning exercises or activities (for example, games) that strengthen a variety of cognitive skills
  • supplies where a program of tutoring provides a series of levels of attainment that every student must complete without consideration of the specific needs of the student in respect of any provincially recognized course offered by a school authority or a curriculum designated by a school authority

Example 2


Corporation A is registered for the GST/HST. Corporation A is not a public service body for GST/HST purposes.

Corporation A makes supplies of a program called Enhanced Math. This program is intended for children between the ages of 6 and 16. Corporation A promotes that the program will increase confidence in math, improve focus and concentration, and enhance learning in all subjects. Corporation A maintains that the method used in the program develops the brain and the mental capacity of the children, which enhances or develops skills such as memory, ability to concentrate, speed, problem solving and creative intelligence.

The program consists of 5 levels for the age group 6 to 10, and 12 levels for the age group 11 to 16. Each level in the program is approximately 2 months long with a 1-hour class provided 1 evening each week. An assessment is conducted at the end of each level and a certificate is provided on the completion of a particular level.

Participants are required to purchase a workbook for each level they take and all participants use the same workbook for the particular level being taken. The workbook is the only material to be used in the provision of the program. Participants work at their own pace during class time and at home with the expectation that they will complete the particular level within the expected time frame. However, the time frame for each level is approximate.

The program does not follow a curriculum designated by a school authority nor is it a course that is approved for credit by a school authority.

The above supplies are not exempt under paragraph 9(a) of Part III of Schedule V. There is no consideration given to the participant’s individual needs in respect of any provincially recognized course offered by a school authority. Participants use the workbook to work at their own pace with little assistance from the instructor. As well, there is no evidence of a relationship between the supply being made by Corporation A and a course approved for credit by, or that follows a curriculum designated by, a school authority.

13. There are occasions where a school authority will approve for credit for a particular individual a course that is offered by a person other than the school authority. These courses are not generally offered by a school authority and they are not generally courses that are approved for credit by, or that follow a curriculum designated by, a school authority. As a result, the exemption in paragraph 9(a) of Part III of Schedule V only applies to the supplies of tutoring or instructing rendered to the particular individuals for whom the course is approved for credit by the school authority.

14. Where only some of the individuals in a class are eligible to receive a credit from a school authority for a course (as described in paragraph 13 above), the exemption will apply only to the supplies of tutoring or instructing rendered to the individuals who are eligible to receive the credit. As such, a supply of a service of tutoring or instructing in a particular course may be exempt under paragraph 9(a) of Part III of Schedule V for some individuals, while the supply of tutoring or instructing in the course rendered to other individuals in the class will not fall under this exempting provision.

15. The supplier of a service of tutoring or instructing an individual in a course under the conditions described above will have to maintain documentary evidence that the school authority has approved the course for credit for those individuals in order for the exemption to apply. The supplier does not have to determine if a particular individual who is eligible for the credit actually receives the credit.


Example 3


Students of High School A are required to obtain 4 credits in physical education by participating in a gym class offered by High School A. A student has requested permission from High School A to obtain their 4 credits in physical education by taking Jazz Dance – Level II offered at a private school, the Dance Academy.

High School A has reviewed the curriculum of the Dance Academy and has determined that it will approve that particular jazz dance class for credit for the student.

High School A has provided a letter to the Dance Academy indicating that it has approved Jazz Dance – Level II for credit for the student. The service of instructing that student in the Jazz Dance – Level II class is an exempt supply under paragraph 9(a) of Part III of Schedule V. Dance Academy will have to maintain documentary evidence (that is, the letter) that High School A approved the course for credit for that student in order for the exemption to apply.


Example 4


A particular province has developed a Graduated Licensing Program. The Ministry of Education of the particular province has authorized school authorities to give 2 credits towards a secondary school certificate of graduation to students who take driving instruction from driving schools approved by the particular province.

Driving School A offers driving instruction to the general public. Driving School A has been approved to provide driving instruction under the Graduated Licensing Program. Driving School A does not make supplies to any of the province’s school authorities.

Driving School A provides driving instruction to individuals enrolled in a secondary school in the particular province and to individuals who are not enrolled in a secondary school in the particular province. The service of driving instruction provided to the individuals who are eligible to receive the 2 credits towards a certificate of graduation is exempt under paragraph 9(a) of Part III of Schedule V. The service of driving instruction provided to the individuals who are not enrolled in a secondary school in the particular province and who are not eligible to receive 2 credits towards a certificate of graduation is not exempt under paragraph 9(a) of Part III of Schedule V. Driving School A will have to maintain documentary evidence to support the exemption for the students who may receive the credits.

Equivalent courses (music lessons)

16. Paragraph 9(b) of Part III of Schedule V exempts a supply of a service of tutoring or instructing an individual in a course that is a prescribed equivalent of a course outlined in paragraph 9(a) of Part III of Schedule V. Presently, only music lessons are prescribed by section 2 of the Equivalent Courses (GST/HST) Regulations as equivalents of music courses that follow a curriculum designated by a school authority. Accordingly, private music lessons supplied to an individual are treated in the same manner as those approved for credit by, or that follow a curriculum designated by, a school authority.

17. The CRA views a lesson as part of a series of instruction that is designed to result in a progression or development of skills towards a pre-set goal or objective where there is an evaluation of the student’s progress against the pre-set goal or objective.

18. Music lessons include lessons that develop skills in musical performance (involving the use of the human voice or musical instruments), conducting an orchestra or musical composition. Music lessons also include courses or lessons in music theory, which are designed to result in a progression or development of music skills towards pre-set goals or objectives. All levels of such music lessons are exempt and they are not subject to the immediate mandatory prerequisite requirements discussed in paragraph 23 of this memorandum. That is, since all levels of music lessons are exempt under paragraph 9(b) of Part III of Schedule V, the requirements in paragraph 9(c) of Part III of Schedule V do not apply to music lessons.

19. The fact that an activity involves music does not mean it is a supply of instruction in music or a music lesson. Music lessons do not include instruction in music-recording skills, music history or the teaching of techniques of music education. In addition, activities involving music entertainment or appreciation and recreational courses that include an element of music (for example, ballroom dancing or aerobics) do not qualify as music lessons.

20. Generally, activities that have a music component, such as dancing, drama, pretend play or literature linked to music, are not devoted to instruction in music. These services are not music lessons for the purposes of the exemption under paragraph 9(b) of Part III of Schedule V.

21. Whether a particular activity or program is a music lesson is a question of fact. The CRA considers the following when determining whether an activity or program is a music lesson. These questions are not necessarily all-inclusive or of equal significance in respect of each particular case:

  • Does the supplier provide instruction in identifiable musical skills or concepts?
  • Is the program delivered in a structured and sequential manner with defined goals or objectives?
  • Are students required to complete an examination or assessment to determine the appropriate class placement or starting level of instruction?
  • Does the instructor provide students with feedback regarding their progress? Are there examinations to evaluate the students’ progress during or upon completion of the program?
  • Does the instructor possess any qualifications in music, such as a degree in music or other musical training?
  • Does the instructor use a recognized method of teaching music?
  • Are the lessons designed to meet criteria specified by a governing body that lead to standardized assessment or certification by either the governing body or its authorized representatives?
  • Does the program involve non-musical elements? If so, what proportion of the program schedule is devoted to instruction in music? Can the other elements be connected to musical concepts or methods of teaching music?
  • What is the main purpose of the program? That is, is the program designed to teach musical skills or for some other purpose, such as recreation?
  • How is the program advertised and promoted?

22. If a supplier provides multiple music programs, some of these programs may be considered music lessons for GST/HST purposes while others may not.


Example 5


Music Academy P provides a music program for children ages 6 to 9 years. The program instructors all have formal musical training. Children in the program receive instruction in many of the fundamental elements of music and are introduced to singing, reading and writing music. In addition, the children learn to play a basic musical instrument, the xylophone or the recorder. The music program is very structured and is divided into sequential semesters, which are designed to be taken in order as the children progress through the program. The children’s progress is evaluated against pre-set objectives. The program is designed so that a child finishing the program will have an advantage when entering private music lessons.

The Music Academy P music program involves formal instruction that develops skills in musical performance involving the use of the human voice and musical instruments. The program qualifies as music lessons, and the supply of the service of instruction is exempt from the GST/HST under paragraph 9(b) of Part III of Schedule V.


Example 6


Company Z offers a program for pre-school-aged children and their parents. The program is advertised as a great way for families to spend time together and have fun. The program consists of singing, musical games, dancing, storytelling and play time. Although the program involves some musical elements, most of the program schedule is devoted to other activities. The main purpose of the program is to promote child development and socialization.

This program does not qualify as music lessons for GST/HST purposes. Therefore, the supply is not exempt under paragraph 9(b) of Part III of Schedule V.

Prerequisite courses that are mandatory for admittance into a course

23. A supply of a service of tutoring or instructing an individual in a course, the successful completion of which is mandatory for admittance into a course described in paragraphs 9(a) or (b) of Part III of Schedule V, is exempt under paragraph 9(c) of Part III of Schedule V. Services of tutoring or instructing individuals in courses that are not immediate mandatory prerequisite courses to a course in paragraphs 9(a) or (b) of Part III of Schedule V are not exempt under paragraph 9(c) of Part III of Schedule V.


Example 7


Private School B, a school authority for GST/HST purposes, recognizes for a high school physical education credit the successful completion of the Level III ballet class offered by Dance School C and has issued a letter to Dance School C confirming this fact. One of Dance School C’s students attends Private School B.

Dance School C is not a public service body and its dance classes are generally not exempt under paragraph 9(a) of Part III of Schedule V. In order for a student to be permitted to enrol in a Level III ballet class, the student must complete the Level II ballet class, which can only be taken after completion of the Level I ballet class.

The supply by Dance School C of a service of instructing the student who is eligible to receive a school credit from Private School B for the Level III ballet class is exempt from the GST/HST under paragraph 9(a) of Part III of Schedule V.

The supply by Dance School C of a service of instructing that same student in the Level II ballet class is exempt from the GST/HST under paragraph 9(c) of Part III of Schedule V since the completion of Level II ballet is a mandatory prerequisite for taking Level III ballet.

However, the supply of a service of instructing a student in the Level I ballet class is not exempt under paragraph 9(c) of Part III of Schedule V, since the completion of Level I ballet is not an immediate mandatory prerequisite for the Level III ballet class (the class approved for credit).

The supply of the service of instructing an individual in Level II and Level III ballet classes is not exempt from the GST/HST under section 9 of Part III of Schedule V when it is made to other students of Dance School C who are not eligible to receive a credit from a school authority, even if they are in the same class as the student from Private School B. Dance School C will have to maintain documentary evidence that Private School B approved the Level III ballet course for credit for that student in order for the exemption to apply.


Example 8


A corporation under the trade name University Preparatory offers services of tutoring individuals in all high school subjects for grades 10 to 12 at several locations within Canada. The website of University Preparatory states that “the content of our tutoring in high school subjects prepares students to excel in these courses, providing them with a higher grade point average when applying to university”. The service of tutoring individuals in courses for grades 10 to 12 follows the basic curriculum designated by a school authority in each of the provinces in which University Preparatory provides its tutoring services. University Preparatory also provides instrumental music instruction to individuals who are 15 years of age or older.

The tutoring services offered by University Preparatory in the courses for grades 10 to 12 are exempt under paragraph 9(a) of Part III of Schedule V when supplied in each of the provinces because it supplies services of tutoring in courses that follow a curriculum designated by a school authority in each of the provinces.

The instrumental music instruction is exempt under paragraph 9(b) of Part III of Schedule V because the Equivalent Courses (GST/HST) Regulations prescribe music lessons to be equivalent to music courses that follow a curriculum designated by a school authority. That is, all music lessons are a prescribed equivalent of a course outlined in paragraph 9(a) of Part III of Schedule V and are therefore exempt.

Further information

All GST/HST technical publications are available at GST/HST technical information.

To make a GST/HST enquiry by telephone:

  • for GST/HST general enquiries, call Business Enquiries at 1‑800‑959‑5525
  • for GST/HST technical enquiries, call GST/HST Rulings at 1‑800‑959‑8287

If you are located in Quebec, call Revenu Québec at 1‑800‑567‑4692 or visit their website at revenuquebec.ca.

If you are a selected listed financial institution (whether or not you are located in Quebec) and require information on the GST/HST or the QST, go to GST/HST and QST - Financial institutions, including selected listed financial institutions or:

  • for general GST/HST or QST enquiries, call Business Enquiries at 1‑800‑959‑5525
  • for technical GST/HST or QST enquiries, call GST/HST Rulings SLFI at 1‑855‑666‑5166
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Date modified:
2019-12-11