The GST in Canada : plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose?

This article reviews the development of the goods and services tax (GST) in Canada from its launch in 1991. The article explains why Canada started where it did with respect to value added taxation and the constraints imposed by this starting point on future developments. The article also discusses three aspects of Canada's experience: why Canada introduced the GST at an unusually low rate and recently reduced it substantially; some important respects in which Canada's model differs from the VAT in the European Union and the GST in Australia and New Zealand; and the uniquely asymmetric way in which the GST operates in Canada.