Friday, 16 December 2016
Anything to Declare?
Returning home from the United States after our recent holiday, we had to go through Canada Customs at Vancouver. When you are out of the country for more than 7 days, you can bring back $800 worth of purchases without paying any Canadian duty or taxes on them.
While on the airplane, I dutifully filled out my declaration paperwork in preparation for landing. I had $800 worth of purchases, if I didn't declare my new tattoo. If I declared it, it would put me at $1100 and I'd have to pay on the excess. Being scrupulously honest (of course!), I declared it.
So in Vancouver I was shunted off to a special line for miscreants who had exceeded their purchase allowances. I had to deal with a (*gulp*) Customs Officer. There she sat in uniform, in a booth behind glass, giving me the evil eye. And she was such a cutie! She reminded me of the adorably chubby RCMP Constable with the baby bear in that viral internet photo of a few years ago --
I probably had the same hangdog look on my face as the baby bear.
"What kinds of purchases did you make in the United States?" She looked up from my paperwork.
"Well, you know," I gestured vaguely in the air, "touristy stuff."
"Like what?" Officer Cutie demanded.
"Oh, knick-knacks, cards, t-shirts, that kind of thing." I was jet-lagged and couldn't for the life of me remember what I had bought.
"I find it very hard to believe that anyone could spend $1100 dollars on items like that." Her voice was frosty and her evil eye grew more accusatory.
"Really?" I was gobsmacked. I thought I had, in fact, shown great shopping restraint while I was in Maui.
Then I remembered what I had been so careful to bring along in my purse.
"Here's an itemized list of all my purchases, with receipts attached, if you want to look at it," I said and handed it to her.
I've always been an organized, OCD kinda gal. I caught Officer Cutie off-guard with my meticulous list, I just know it. She was much friendlier after that.
She read it and said, "Tattoo?"
"Yes, that's what puts me over the limit."
"I've never had anyone declare a tattoo before."
"Well," I said helpfully, "I know that when you go to the States and pay for services like dental work or auto repairs, you have to declare it at the border."
"Yes, or if you get prescription glasses or a boob job," she agreed.
"So I figured I'd better declare my tattoo," I chirped.
Officer Cutie paused.
"I think it's arguable that, unlike those other examples, tattooing does not constitute a service resulting in an enhancement or an improvement, as the legislation requires in order for it to be a declarable item," she said.
It was my turn to pause.
"Well, yes, I suppose you could be right," I reluctantly conceded, remembering how not everyone thinks well of tattoos.
"I'm removing it from your list as a non-declarable item. Now you do not exceed the allowable purchase limit, so no taxes or duty are payable."
She stamped my form and gave me a sweet smile.
I'd like to tell you that I blew her a kiss and said "Thanks, Officer Cutie!" but of course I did nothing of the kind. I just high-tailed it out of there before she changed her mind.