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How to obtain a refund of sales tax paid while visiting the United States
In general, states within the United States provide an exemption from sales and use tax on tangible personal property purchased in that particular state and thereafter exported to another country. This is would be beneficial for those who travel to the United States from foreign countries and hand carry their goods; however, only Louisiana and Texas currently offers refund of sales tax in such cases.
Other than hand carry, the process for applying for a sales tax refund may be different, depending on the state you have purchased the goods from. In certain situations it may make economic sense (i.e. shipping fees and import duties at the country of destination) to make large purchases in the United States and have them shipped by carrier to your foreign address.
For example: Mr. Doe buys $100,000.00 worth of products in New York and pays 8.875% in sales tax equalling $8,875.00, Shipping those goods to and paying import duties (as opposed to hand carry in luggage) in Hong Kong is only $2,500.00. As long as Mr. Doe keeps all his receipts and shows proof of export for said products Mr. Doe would get back $6,375.00 from the New York State Tax Department. Thus, instead of paying $108,875.00 (cost of products including tax) he would only end up paying $102,500.00 for those products.
*It may also make sense if you are traveling with a group of people to consolidate a shipment all together to a foreign destination in order to benefit from a sales tax refund.
To get the sales tax refunded one must keep all shipping documentation as evidence that the goods left the United States. Shipping documentation may include a U.S. Postal Service, UPS, FedEx receipt, or a freight forwarder’s receipt and a copy of the original bill of lading issued by a licensed carrier describing the goods to which a refund will be requested.
Keep in mind that the requirements are comprehensive and there may be a limited period of time to which one may be permitted to request a sales tax refund. Further, the wait time for the refund can take months. Thus, it may be beneficial to contact an attorney who has experience in this area.
Contact us today for legal assistance is preparing an application for the return of sales tax paid on exported goods.