Effective June 1, Canadians will be able to do more shopping in Whatcom County before getting hit with a duty tax.
Currently the cap is at $50 after 24 hours away from Canada, $400 after 48 hours away and $750 after seven days away. That will change to $200 after 24 hours, $800 after 48 hours and $800 after seven days away.
Ken Oplinger, president of the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry, believes the most significant change in the Canadian exemption limits for Whatcom County retailers is for the 48-hour period, which will rise from $400 to $800.
“The 48-hour limit change is a big deal for Whatcom County retailers, partly because of the number of Canadians who have second homes in the Birch Bay area and regularly travel across the border,” Oplinger said.
Oplinger said it appears Canadian traffic into Whatcom County has remained strong in the first quarter of 2012, noting that the border was particularly busy last week, which was spring break for many Canadians.
“(Whatcom County) retailers have expressed no concerns to me about Canadian shopping; it has remained strong,” Oplinger said. “I don’t see anything right now that would slow down traffic, even if the Canadian dollar weakened into the mid-90s (compared to the U.S. dollar) in the coming months.”
Oplinger also noted that it will take the British Columbia government some time to complete the changes to the Harmonized Sales Tax issue, something B.C. residents voted to change last year. The HST has meant a higher tax rate for certain products, such as school supplies, possibly prompting more Canadians to shop for those products in the U.S.