I was sent a question as to whether harmonized sales tax (HST) will be imposed on imported goods that have been the subject of a bequest to the importer. I wanted to answer this question since my own Grandmother passed away this year --- so this one is for Alice (and the writer of the question).
Goods that are classified under H.S. tariff item 98.06 may be imported as a non-taxable importation (in other words, no HST on importation). H.S. tariff item applies to:
(a) Personal and household effects of a resident of Canada who has died (on the condition that such goods were owned, possessed and used abroad by that resident);
(b) Personal and household effects received by a resident of Canada as a result of the death or in anticipation of death of a person who is not a resident of Canada (on condition that such goods were owned, possessed and used abroad by that non-resident), or
(c) ll the foregoing when bequeathed to a resident of Canada.
It will be important to communicate effectively on the import documentation that the goods are the subject of a bequest (or belonged to a resident of Canada who passed away while outside Canada). Please use H.S. tariff code number 98.06 on the Customs invoice. It will be helpful to name the deceased person and/or the estate of the deceased person. If the goods are the subject of a bequest, be prepare to provide to a Canada Border Services Agency officer a copy of the Will or the Receipt and Release that identifies the goods that are the subject of a bequest.
If the goods belonged to a Canadian resident who passed away abroad, the goods should be listed by the coroner or an official in the foreign jurisdiction as belongings of the deceased person. There will be many situations where such documentation is not possible. In such cases, a reasonable attempt should be made to corroborate that the criteria of the H.S tariff code have been satisfied.
Please remember that this H.S. tariff code has been misused by some and that is why your difficult time is going to be the subject of an inquiry by CBSA officers.