By Senator Patty Ritchie
Pull into the parking lot of any mall or shopping plaza, and odds are, it will be filled with Canadian vehicles.
It’s no secret that more and more Canadians are traveling south to take advantage of bargains here in New York State. Now, two important changes are taking place that are expected to boost the number of Canadian shoppers in the North Country and Central New York.
On April 1, New York eliminated its four percent State sales tax rate on all clothing and footwear items under $110.
Before that, taxes were collected on items costing more than $55.
The exemption is expected to save New Yorkers an estimated $210 million.
The tax break is expected to attract more Canadians too; as shoppers from the North are used to paying 13 percent in sales tax when they shop in their own country.
The incentive for Canadians to spend money in Central and Northern New York doesn’t stop there.
In June, Canada will allow its citizens to bring more of what they buy during their U.S. shopping trips home without requiring them to pay duty on the purchases.
Currently, Canadians visiting the U.S. for more than a day can bring home $50 in merchandise without paying any duty.
Under the new rules, that amount would increase to $200. If Canadians decide to stay for more than 48 hours, they will be permitted to bring home $800 in goods tax-free.
That’s up from $400.
For those of us in Central and Northern New York, the Canadian government’s efforts to relax the rules for Canadians shopping in the U.S. is good news for more than just our stores, restaurants and hotels.
The new rules will give more Canadians another reason to visit Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties and extend their stay for a few days.
While they are here, we will have more opportunities to encourage them to visit our museums, tourist attractions, parks and scenic vistas in addition to our retail centers.
You and I know that our region offers a wide variety of attractions that bring tens of thousands of visitors from across the U.S. to visit each year.
By making an effort to welcome our Canadian friends to our communities, we can provide a much-needed boost to the economies of Central and Northern New York.