Time vs money - buy in Canada?
August 12, 2009 1:46 PM   Subscribe

Seattle resident (US Citizen) wants to buy a $900 keyboard amp of Canadian manufacture from Vancouver B.C. music store. How much it would REALLY cost after taxes and customs duties? Store couldn't tell me; getting busy signal from Border Information Service 800 number. GST - about 5%? Additional provincial tax for BC, and if so, how much? Additional customs duties? Would drive up from Seattle and buy in person. Is this insane, or should I just special-order via Seattle music store and save money (but not time?)
posted by dorgla to Shopping (7 answers total)
BC PST looks like it's 7%, so there's 12% sales tax total.

What I can't work out is the duty rate for bringing in electronics over the personal limit. Duty rates vary with types of goods. You may not be charged.

Don't forget to factor in any forex charges on your credit card - quite often these are around 4%.
posted by scruss at 1:55 PM on August 12, 2009

Foreigners get tax reimbursed. Save your receipts and find out what forms you have to fill out. At least, that's my understanding.

As for customs/duty, no clue. It's a friggin crapshoot.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 1:59 PM on August 12, 2009

Foreigners get tax reimbursed.

Not anymore.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:03 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just a suggestion, but try a music shop in Calgary or Edmonton. Alberta does not have a provincial sales tax(PST). There would be a 5% GST applicable though. I don't know what the tax on your side would be though, sorry.

I won't set any examples out, but google is your friend.
posted by fox_terrier_guy at 2:12 PM on August 12, 2009

Can you get the manufacturer to ship it to you? GST and PST are only applied if the customer resides in or visits Canada for the good or service.
posted by talkingmuffin at 4:15 PM on August 12, 2009

talkingmuffin is right. when ever I have done the reverse, ie buying equipment from the USA and having it shipped to Canada, I never paid any American sales tax. You'd probably have to pay duty on it entering, which would, I think be equal to whatever Washington's sales tax is. If you factor in the exchange rate I think you'd only end up paying a small amount.
posted by hector horace at 6:38 PM on August 12, 2009

There are also cutoffs for how much merchandise you are permitted to bring across the border, depending on how long you have spent in the other country, without having to pay customs/duty on it.

For Canadians visiting the States, we can bring back $200 Canadian after 48 hours in the US and $750 after 7 days, according to NAFTA. It is likely that the same rough rates apply for American travellers returning from Canada.

Thus, $900 + PST and GST (12% total) = $1008 CDN
Converted to exchange rate for $US = US $927.11.
(visitors to Canada USED to be able to claim back their GST spent, but this program was discontinued by the Conservative government when it was elected in 2006)

Assuming you will pay full duty on the item, returning from Canada on the same day, you will owe what seems to be 4.9% (link goes to PDF of tariffs for this type of import), likely only on the cost of the amplifier itself (before taxes), in US funds (around $830), thus = $870.67 + taxes already paid = US $ 967.78.

That's to say nothing of time and money spent coming to get the amp, unless you treat it like a pleasure trip of some sort and stay overnight. It might be cheaper to buy the amp in Seattle unless it's specialized/rare in some way.
posted by urbanlenny at 9:31 AM on August 13, 2009

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