Shopping Discussion

Tax Exempt Status When Shopping in the USA

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  • May 3rd, 2009 12:35 am
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Deal Addict
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Oct 25, 2003
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Tax Exempt Status When Shopping in the USA

Hey guys,

Is there anywhere someone could find information on the tax exempt status of Canadians shopping in the States?

For example, as an Albertan, I am tax exempt from all purchases in Washington State ... hello Seattle!

What I am looking for is a comprehensive list so we can plan some vacations around this ...

TIA
33 replies
Deal Guru
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Aug 20, 2005
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Never heard of this, please explain. Is there some special agreement with Washington State?
Deal Addict
Jun 7, 2005
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llcooljayce wrote:
Sep 15th, 2008 10:07 pm
Hey guys,

Is there anywhere someone could find information on the tax exempt status of Canadians shopping in the States?

For example, as an Albertan, I am tax exempt from all purchases in Washington State ... hello Seattle!

What I am looking for is a comprehensive list so we can plan some vacations around this ...

TIA
Pretty sure you have no idea what you're talking about.
Jr. Member
Mar 16, 2008
170 posts
http://dor.wa.gov/Docs/Rules/eta/2014r2.PDF

I believe this may be what you are looking for.
RCW 82.08.0273 provides an exemption from the retail sales tax to certain nonresidents of Washington for purchases of tangible personal property for use outside this state. This statutory exemption is available only to residents of states other than Washington, United States possessions, or Canadian provinces when the jurisdiction does not impose a retail sales tax of three percent or more.
Eligible nonresidents
As of January 31, 2008, only residents of the following states, possessions, and provinces of Canada
qualify:

Alaska
American Samoa
Alberta
Colorado
Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands
New Brunswick
Delaware
Guam
Newfoundland and Labrador
Montana
Virgin Islands
Nova Scotia
New Hampshire
Northwest Territories
Oregon
Nunavut
Quebec
Yukon Territory

Please note that residents of Idaho and of the Province of British Columbia do not qualify for the exemption.
[OP]
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Oct 25, 2003
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Impossibles wrote:
Sep 16th, 2008 2:31 am
Pretty sure you have no idea what you're talking about.
Actually I'm pretty sure you run your mouth a lot. Why the hell would I make this up and what the hell would a person from BC know about whether or not an Albertan is tax exempt?
Washington

Washington has a 6.5% statewide sales tax. As of October 31, 2007, sales tax is not applied on most food items and prescription medications (not including over-the-counter medications). Individual counties, municipalities and regional transit authorities are entitled to collect a sales tax, which vary from 0.5% to 2.5%. Within King County, the King County Food & Beverage (KCF&B) tax adds an additional .5% to food and beverages purchased in bars, taverns and restaurants resulting in an effective tax rate of 9.5% (9.0% on all other items).[66] Additionally, the sale or lease of motor vehicles for use on the road incur an additional 0.3% tax, rental of a car for less than 30 days has an additional state/local tax of 8.9%.[66] When renting a car for less than 30 days in Seattle, the total sales tax is 18.6%. When purchasing an automobile, if you trade in a car, the state subtracts the price of the trade when calculating the sales tax to be paid on the automobile (e.g., purchasing a $40,000 car and trading a $20,000 car, you would be taxed on the difference of $20,000 only, not the full amount of the new vehicle).

When staying at hotel (60+ rooms capacity) in Seattle, the sales tax is 15.6%. Residents of Canada and US states or possessions (only US and Canadian locations having a sales tax of less than 3%, e.g., Oregon, Alaska & Alberta) are exempt from sales tax on purchases of tangible personal property for use outside the state. Stores at the border will inquire about residency and exempt qualified purchasers from the tax.[67] Washington also has a Gross receipts tax called the Business and Occupations Tax (B&O).

Also, the seller of a house pays excise taxes on the full sale price. The amount of the varies by county. In King and Snohomish counties, it is up to 1.78%. For example, selling a house for $500K will cost you $8900 in taxes.

Residents of Washington are also obligated to pay a sales and use tax, which is incurred when a resident makes a purchase in another state and uses it within state lines, regardless of whether or not sales tax was paid in another state. This tax is based on an honor system for its residents and is seldom, if ever, paid.

The lowest combined sales tax (statewide and municipality) in Washington is 7.0% in most of Klickitat and Skamania Counties, while the highest combined sales tax in Washington is the aforementioned 9.5% tax on prepared food and beverages in King County.

April 1, 2008 saw tax increases in King County (+.001), Kittitas County (+.003), Mason County (+.001), and the city of Union Gap (+.002)[68], which makes King County's prepared food and beverages tax 9.501%.

On July 1, 2008, Washington stopped charging an origin-based sales tax, and started charging a destination-based sales tax. This change only applies to transactions beginning and ending within state lines and does not apply to other states.[66] Additionally, Washington started collecting taxes from online retailers that have voluntarily agreed to start collecting the sales tax in return for not being sued for back taxes.[69]
Source: Wikipedia
Deal Addict
Jun 7, 2005
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Ok, so you don't pay sales tax in washington, but you'll still have to pay GST+ duties when you bring stuff across the border.
Newbie
Aug 16, 2008
1 posts
We shop in North Dakota and we send our receipts in to get the tax back.
[OP]
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Oct 25, 2003
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Impossibles wrote:
Sep 16th, 2008 3:39 am
Ok, so you don't pay sales tax in washington, but you'll still have to pay GST+ duties when you bring stuff across the border.
I think you may not have travelled in some time bro.

You have an individual tax exemption at the border for up to $750 if you stay for longer than 3 days (from what I recall)
Deal Addict
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Jul 23, 2004
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Montreal
Is there anywhere I could have a list of items to which duties can be charged?

I often see items in the USA that I could buy for much cheaper than in Canada, for example I bought my winter tires in the USA.

When I came back, I declared them to Canadian customs and was only charged the applicable taxes (PST + GST).

Is it the same for all items, which items can I get charged duties on? What's the rate?
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Jan 6, 2007
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llcooljayce wrote:
Sep 16th, 2008 3:34 am
Exactly right ... now are there any other States for Canadians to consider?
x2

I did a quick Google search, but my results have been confusing and futile :o
Deal Addict
Jun 7, 2005
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llcooljayce wrote:
Sep 16th, 2008 3:48 am
I think you may not have travelled in some time bro.

You have an individual tax exemption at the border for up to $750 if you stay for longer than 3 days (from what I recall)
When I first saw this thread, I assumed you thought you could drive down to the states and buy whatever you wanted and come back and not have to pay any taxes because you were from alberta. My bad for jumping to conclusions, but you also weren't very clear on what you were talking about. Many many threads have been created by dummies who think somehow they can get away without paying applicable taxes, I thought this was another.
Deal Fanatic
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Sep 30, 2003
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$750 is for 7 or more days, not 3.

http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/media/facts- ... 0-eng.html

24 hours or more, you can bring in CAN$50 worth of goods free of duty and tax;
If the goods you bring in are worth more than CAN$50 in total, you cannot claim this exemption. Instead you have to pay full applicable duties and taxes on all goods you bring in.
48 hours or more, you can bring in CAN$400 worth of goods free of duty and tax;
7 days or more, you can bring in CAN$750 worth of goods free of duty and tax.


And there are places close to Ontario where there's no sales tax as well....like Pennsylvania. WYSIWYP.
My nick doesn't mean I'm happy any more than yours means you're a sex machine.
Newbie
Jun 24, 2008
64 posts
Edmonton
llcooljayce, I'm sure you already know but Montana doesn't have a sales tax. There is some pretty good shopping to be had in Kalispell (5.5 hours south of Calgary) and Missoula (8 hours).
Montana is where I head if I'm going to specifically shop, Seattle if I'm going to visit my Mom (she's in Vancouver).
Newbie
Feb 1, 2007
82 posts
1 upvote
Ottawa
AMD wrote:
Sep 16th, 2008 1:48 pm
Is there anywhere I could have a list of items to which duties can be charged?

I often see items in the USA that I could buy for much cheaper than in Canada, for example I bought my winter tires in the USA.

When I came back, I declared them to Canadian customs and was only charged the applicable taxes (PST + GST).

Is it the same for all items, which items can I get charged duties on? What's the rate?
Duty is another word for taxes. The rate in your case would be 5%GST and 7.5%PST. So if you buy $1000CDN worth of stuff it will cost you $125CDN in Duty(Taxes)

I live in Quebec and cross in Ontario, I pay 5% at the border when coming back. They bill Quebec and they(the Quebec Government) "May" send you a bill for the PST. The girl said in all the years she has been working there, she has never heard of anyone being billed.

You are charged duties on everything you purchase, and it depends how long you have been in the US. You are duty free of $50 for 24 hours, $400 for 48 hours, and $750 for 7 days. Other then that if you go down for 2 hours and buy $30 worth of stuff you will pay tax on it(12.5%).

The last time across I bought $850USD worth of stuff(Snowblower, lights, etc..) and I paid $45 CDN duty with the conversion.. With all the times I have crossed for day shopping in my life I have never seen a bill from the Quebec government. So 5% duty in the end.

So cross in Ontario if you can when coming home!

Hope this helps.
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