After I moved to New York a decade in the past, my household and pals in Canada turned me into their cross-border mule.
It was by no means medication, alcohol or cigarettes that I used to be requested to smuggle throughout the border to keep away from paying a hefty tariff or Canada Customs responsibility.
It was fridge screws, a barbecue cowl, and digicam and bicycle components — objects that Amazon and different on-line retailers within the US simply don’t trouble transport north of the border due to the myriad and dizzying array of tariffs and taxes that Canada prices its residents on items they purchase within the U.S.
So when Canadians responded to President Trump’s current disagreement with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over free commerce by promising to cancel their US holidays and boycott American merchandise final week, I used to be skeptical.
Whereas many Canadians are threatening by no means to devour Kentucky bourbon and Florida oranges, they’re unlikely to surrender purchasing within the US — a pursuit as quintessentially Canadian as curling and maple syrup.
Regardless of enormous tariff obstacles and taxes that act as a digital wall between the world’s longest worldwide border, Canada imported a complete of $98.9 billion in merchandise from the US within the first 4 months of 2018, based on the US Census Bureau.
Skirting these tariffs is a nationwide sport.
My brother has grow to be a grasp. He as soon as had a rowing machine shipped to my colleague’s tiny Union Sq. studio condo, the place it languished for days till he made the 10-hour drive every technique to haul it again to Ontario in his truck.
He by no means totally defined how he hid the tools from Canada Customs officers when he needed to drive throughout the border. However had he shipped it on to Canada he would have paid exponentially greater than the $2,000 sticker worth. In actual fact, it will have price him an additional $360.08 in federal and provincial taxes, and $169.05 in Canada Customs responsibility.
Regardless of feel-good authorities initiatives that urged us to “Purchase Canadian,” we knew that the great things was all the time within the US.
Within the early 1980s, my brother and I used to make the two-hour drive to Buffalo from our residence in Toronto to purchase blue denims. Again then, you couldn’t discover Levis 501s in Canada at any worth.
Throughout the border, they have been $15 at The Hole. We rolled up our outdated pants and stuffed them within the trunk of the automotive, and wore our new denims for the experience residence.
A Canadian who as soon as lived in Vancouver instructed me he would cross the border into Seattle to purchase outside tools that he merely couldn’t discover in Canada.
“Earlier than we crossed again into Canada, we’d take away the value tags and ensure that the brand new tools appeared as dusty as potential,” he mentioned.
A Toronto-based designer I do know bought two pairs of footwear (retail $800 every) on-line from a midtown division retailer and shipped them to my workplace. The Italian contraband sat beneath my desk for weeks till I might entrust them to a provider who could be crossing the border. I lastly satisfied my nephew who had been visiting New York to stuff them into his back-pack and rendezvous with the designer in Toronto for the drop-off. My buddy saved $159.59 in mixed federal and provincial taxes, and $187.26 in estimated customs prices.
Canadians are allowed $540 in exemptions if they’ve been in a foreign country for greater than 48 hours. The exemption for People touring overseas is $800.
As for my brother, the Canadian exemption barely covers the crates of pecans and walnuts he not too long ago introduced again for his parrots or the Swiss watches he entrusted to an American buddy to hold over the border.
Final week, he instructed me about his subsequent buy — an industrial vacuum cleaner that picks up sawdust. He’s planning the drive to Rochester, NY, to choose it up.