Time to increase duty-free limits for cross-border shoppers ?
Looking to take free trade right to your door step, the United States has asked Canada to raise its duty-free limits for day trips across the border, perhaps to as much as $1,000.
Americans can buy and bring back $200 worth of Canadian goods in the first two days before they have to settle up with U.S. customs. Over two days, the exemption is $800.
Conversely, after one day, our “exemption” at the border is a mere $50; between two and seven days, you can bring back $400 worth of goods and, after one week, it’s a $750 exemption on most goods.
Earlier this year, former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson proposed that the government increase these exemptions tenfold: raising the one-day allowance from $50 to $500 per person; the three-day allowance from $250 to $2,500; that longer-stay allowance from $750 to $7,500.
But this could change, suggests Bill Anderson, a professor of cross-border policy studies at the University of Windsor. He feels the issue of personal exemptions could a key issue in the border security talks currently heating up between the U.S. and Canada.
The point of border guards in 2011 should be to focus on threats to both countries and not collecting fees, maintains Globe columnist Neil Reynolds.
Higher allowances would eliminate the us-versus-them hassles of cross-border shopping and permit customs agents to spend less time on “looking for bottles of duty-free whisky and spend more time trying to identify people who might be a genuine threat,” he maintains.
What do you think: Should exemptions be bumped up? Or will this simply drive businesses in border towns into the ground?
By Gordon Powers, MSN Money
* Follow Gordon on Twitter here.
Posted by: Albertan | May 24, 2021 2:25:33 PM
This really isn't an issue from what I have seen.
The last couple of times I have driven across the border I have come back over my limit. I show up at the border with my receipts and they ask how much I spent. I tell them the amount and they ask if any of that includes alcohol or cigerettes. When I say no they wave me through.
So the rules may be tight but the application of the rules seems fairly loose.
Posted by: Joe | May 25, 2021 7:22:00 AM
Not in my experience Albertan, it's different depnding on the agent I guess. Last time they made me pay $20 in taxes for some clothes. Like really.
Posted by: Frank Evans | May 25, 2021 10:42:23 AM
I believe it is time to increase the limits on exemptions for shopping in the US. Why do the Americans get to request a refund of the local taxes paid and we don't when we purchase items in the US? We pay the US taxes and when we cross the border the Canadian Government demands we pay the tax here as well. Unfair!
The comment from another reader about freeing up the border guards to actually guard our borders is a very valid one.
Tax collection should not be the primary function of the border guards. I travel through the Us frequently and upon arrival in some other countries you are allowed to purchase up to 6 bottles of alcohol right in the airport prior to clearing customs.
I think that the fear of harming border towns through the loss of sales is unfounded. If the products sold in the border towns are correctly priced there should be an increase in business due to the additional out of town traffic from both Canadians and other travellers..
Canada's rules in regard to foriegn purchases are antiquated and need to be brought into the 21st century.
Posted by: Torontonian | May 25, 2021 10:46:39 AM
It's about time!!!
Posted by: Albertan | May 25, 2021 1:44:39 PM
Well Frank you can get the US taxes back in some states.
On a recent trip through Washington & Idaho all I had to do was show my Albertan drivers license and I was refunded the 10% state sales tax right at the till (worled in department stores, gift shops, hotels, etc).
So you can get your taxes back at the time of purchase.
Posted by: Fellow Albertan | May 25, 2021 1:59:46 PM
As another Albertan, I'm pretty sure thaty Albertans get the sales tax refunded since we do not pay this tax in our province. It was an incentive to get more cross border shoppers from the province. I'm not sure if this sales tax refund policy is specific to the western states, or if it was USA wide.
Posted by: Retired | May 26, 2021 2:42:01 PM
Coming back from at Thunder bay crossing I got dinged %100 percent or $10 on a kids T shirt that I declared and they turned the car upside down looking for who knows what. Some of these yahoos are on a power trip. I guess they were pissed that they didn't find any contraband.
Posted by: Alta | May 27, 2021 12:41:53 AM
Although a novel idea, it would make more sense to simply lighten up on the regulations that prevent a majority from being able to cross the border. More people means more money.
Posted by: Vicky | May 27, 2021 9:04:15 AM
Yes it's time for an increase, I think it would eliminate people trying to sneak in goods and give the boader guards more time to focus on catching real criminals and terrorists threats and not worry about if people spent $500 more than they should have. Life is competitive and it's about time we step up and get with the program.
Posted by: Phyllis Murray | May 30, 2021 10:52:10 AM
I live in a border city and go to usa a least once a week, it would be very nice if you could bring back a 24 can case of beer instead of just 12 the 24 can case is priced a third of the cost in Canada. We are just seniors trying to spread our monthly money as far as it will go. I would like to see the amounts of exemptions bumped up
Posted by: Kim | Aug 6, 2021 9:54:21 PM
Why we shop across the border because it is much cheaper retailers!!! Lower prices get the selection they have in the US and we would not be forced to have to cross border shop!! People are going to go spend their hard earned money were they can save a significant amount!!! Lower prices to compete with US and than we would shop here!!
Posted by: Brad | Oct 5, 2021 3:26:57 PM
I cross the border about once per month to purchase clothes, building supplies and Wal Mart goods... Though it is easy and painless crossing back into Canada, I do feel that our border guards are glorified tax collectors. There are 3 of them at the counter wearing bullet-proof vests just in case I go crazy and try to smuggle an extra $5.00 worth of goods into Canada.
In the meantime, while I am paying them more taxes, some terrorist wannabe is riding across in another vehicle's trunk. I now understand why the USA government thinks we are a laughingstock when it comes to security.
Shape up Canada.....
Posted by: Joe | Nov 11, 2021 4:07:34 PM
I agree with Brad 100%
Posted by: Jon | Dec 9, 2021 12:26:14 AM
The border guards are there to guard our country, not to be a branch of Revenue Canada.
If they increased the exemption, the tax revenue they lost would be easily made up by the efficiency of not having to employ as many guards to play cashier.