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Travel Tip: Tax Free Shopping

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If you’re planning to shop when you travel, remember that where you buy is almost as important as what you buy.

In the US Virgin Islands, U.S. residents can take home $1,600 worth of duty-free items. That’s why the cruise ship ports are filled with shops selling jewelry, perfume, liquor, and other goods.

Then there are the U.S. states that have no sales tax at all, like Oregon and Delaware. However, doesn’t mean you won’t pay tax on other things, like car rentals and hotels.

And in Louisiana, if you purchase an original work of art in a designated Cultural District, the sales tax is waived.

EU countries have a Value Added Tax that tacks on anywhere from 9 to 20 percent, but there is a way to get that back.

If you spend enough money in a store that participates in the VAT refund scheme, you may be eligible for a refund. Minimums vary by country–in France, it’s 175 euros.

Of course, collecting that money is another issue: it usually requires paperwork from the merchant, showing the items at customs, and waiting in line at the refund desk.

For more information, visit our shopping category.

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