Feedback: Owens Calls For Canada Tax Change

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North country Congressman Bill Owens is asking Canada to again cut the taxes it collects from Canadians who shop in northern New York.

In a letter to Canadian officials last week, Owens asked Canada to match the deal U.S. shoppers get when they go to Canada for a day - the first $200 of purchases is tax free.

“It is important to the region’s economy that New York businesses have a level playing field when they’re competing for Canadian consumers,” said Owens in a statement.

“Canadian shoppers should enjoy the same exemptions at the border that Americans do.”

The Canadian government is already poised to cut taxes it collects on Canadians who shop in America - a $200 exemption for people who stay between one and two days, and an $800 exemption for people staying more than two days.

(See our story here.)

But those exemptions are of limited value to merchants in St. Lawrence County, in places like Ogdensburg and Massena, because most Canadians who shop come over on day trips, for less than the 24 hour minimum.

Shoppers 7 News spoke with like shopping in the U.S., and would like - and use - the tax break.

Despite Owens' request, there are no plans to ease the 'day trip' rules, said Gordon Brown, the Canadian Parliment member for Leeds-Grenville.

Still, Brown said, the other cuts (the ones covering one to two day, and more than two day trips) will help American businesses compete.

There would be other benefits to a 'day trip' exemption for northern New York: sales tax would be paid, and if more shopping gets done because of an exemption, then more sales tax would result.

Increasing the personal exemption limits could also mean more Canadian traffic over the International bridge and more revenue in the coffers of the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority:
 
On the down side, Canadian retailers argue the changes not only could cost them business but it could end up costing the Canadian governm as much as  $17 million in lost tax revenues over the next two years.

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Monday, July 28, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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