The Strauss Blog

Calculating the True Cost of Food and Beverages

If the banquet menu price of a cup of coffee is $3, what does it really cost? In a downtown Toronto hotel with an 18% service charge (often referred to as a gratuity) it will end-up costing $4. How does that happen? In the case of Ontario, HST is added to the service charge meaning that 33.34% is added to the cost of the cup of coffee. A $25 catered lunch in Vancouver at a hotel with a 15% service charge will actually cost $31.94 once the combined 27.75% of tax and service charges is added.

The chart below will assist you in budgeting for your events. The information in the chart is current as of January 2015. It is important to note that Quebec is the only province to add PST to service charges (in other provinces and territories, it is only GST or HST that applies to service charges).

Always confirm with the host venue to ensure you understand the true cost of food and beverage. Also keep in mind that an increasing number of venues have service charges on top of the cost of meeting room rentals. The chart below would also apply to those calculations.

Calculating total cost of tax and service charges on Food & Beverage Purchases based on a 15% service charge:

Province PST GST/HST % added
Alberta 5% 20.75%
British Columbia 7% 5% 27.75%
Manitoba 8% 5% 28.75%
New Brunswick 13% 29.95%
Newfoundland and Labrador 13% 29.95%
Northwest Territories 5% 20.75%
Nova Scotia 15% 32.25%
Nunavut 5% 20.75%
Ontario 13% 29.95%
Prince Edward Island 14% 31.10%
Quebec 9.98% 5% 32.22%
Saskatchewan 5% 5% 25.75%
Yukon 5% 20.75%

Calculating total cost of tax and service charges on Food & Beverage Purchases based on an 18% service charge:

Province PST GST/HST % added
Alberta 5% 23.90%
British Columbia 7% 5% 30.90%
Manitoba 8% 5% 31.90%
New Brunswick 13% 33.34%
Newfoundland and Labrador 13% 33.34%
Northwest Territories 5% 23.90%
Nova Scotia 15% 35.70%
Nunavut 5% 23.90%
Ontario 13% 33.34%
Prince Edward Island 14% 34.52%
Quebec 9.98% 5% 35.67%
Saskatchewan 5% 5% 28.90%
Yukon 5% 23.90%