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I drove to Buffalo, NY over the weekend with some friends, and I bought myself a shiny new Apple iPad. I had to pay New York State sales tax at the Apple Store, as well as declare my iPad purchase at the Canadian border to pay Canadian GST + Ontario PST. So, I've been taxed twice.

I do know that when foreigners visit Canada, they can apply to get GST reimbursed. Does a similar process exist for foreigners visiting New York State, where an application can be made to get state sales tax refunded after-the-fact?

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No. In the specific case, NY sales tax is not refundable.

In the slightly more generic things labelled as "sales" taxes are generally not refundable. Taxes that work as "value-added" taxes often are.

The VAT in many European countries (as noted by Zephyr in comment to the question above) is refundable, as is the GST (Goods and Services Tax) in Canada.

The taxes are designed by the government to cover different items at different stages of the production chain, which helps to account for some of the discrepancies.

  • Thanks. Shame they don't refund it ... doing so could help attract more cross-border shoppers. Mind you, the Canadian dollar is making that attractive enough right now! :-) – Chris W. Rea Apr 7 '10 at 23:33
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I travelled by car to Plattsburgh, NY on the weekend. I purchased a set of hand wrenches at the local Sears store and, of course, paid the NY state sales tax. When I returned to Canada I was a good citizen and declared my purchase. I thought that I would have to pay GST + PST on the price of the tool set. But no, I was charged on the total price shown on the bottom of the sales receipt which included the NY sales tax. I complained, saying that I was paying tax on top of tax and in the case of the Quebec PST/TVQ, tax on tax on tax. The Canada Border Services agent said "too bad, we charge on the transaction total".

In other words, their assement is on the total you paid to the merchant regardless of what you bought. For example, let's say you went to McDonalds and bought a $20 meal for youself and your wife and a kid's $2 toy (for your nephew back in Canada). You ate the meal at the McDonald's and kept the toy. When you got back to the Canadian border you declared the toy and showed them the receipt. You would be charged GST & PST on the total price of $22.

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If shopping in North Dakota you can get some of the ND tax back. I have done this:

http://www.visitminot.org/uploads%5Cresources%5C26%5Capplication-for-refund-of-nd-sales-tax-for-canadian-resident-pdf.pdf

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