Legal AdviceTaxation

Tax Deduction for US Tourists: A Comprehensive Guide

Tax refund policies in the US states are not similar. However, if you know them or grab a baseline idea that can help you secure a decent value on your investment. Do read this blog to get an overall idea.

The US market is ideal for shoppers who indulge frequently in buying electronic gadgets, clothes, accessories, etc. They receive the best value against the amount invested in shopping items. Especially for those travelling from India or other Asian countries, the US market rates appear to be much lower compared to their native prices for similar commodities whether they look for items in standalone outlets or supermarkets. Many of us are not aware of the fact that we are bound to receive tax refunds as tourists provided we purchase goods in specific states such as Texas. This blog will cover methods on how we will be able to secure tax refunds and tax deduction along with associated necessities and conditions that must be addressed in our checklist.

Tax Deduction on Shopping at the US

This factor varies from state to state. If the reader wishes to shop in a few specific states like Texas, he/she will have higher chances of being offered a tax refund as per tourist norms prevalent in the US. However, a formal list has never been shared by the US tourism or their active government regarding the sales tax refund policy. 

Offline buying options may not allow the tourist on getting a tax refund, the concept is still ambiguous. The buyer needs to communicate with the concerned online retailer on how he is planning to charge sales tax which again depends on the nature of items the purchaser wishes to ship at his place. 

The refund process is genuine but the sub-steps are way too elaborate thus demanding a considerable limit of perseverance. We have discussed its applicability in the following sections.

Tax Deduction – Federal vs. State Sales Tax 

National level or federal sales tax is not applicable in the United States. When someone purchases a product in this country, the concerned local state government levies state sales tax on that individual. On the other hand, the American Federal Government generally exercises customs duty on a broader level, thus customers do not need to consider this factor. 

The sales tax that is charged while buying items in the American market typically gets credited to the accounts of respective local governmental agencies, federal institutions thus do not enjoy a share of it. Therefore as a tourist, you are eligible to get a sales tax refund that was supposed to aid the funds of the local government post exportation of commodities outside the country.

As the tourists are used to receiving tax refunds, it is vital for them to audit the respective amounts furnished by them to calculate an estimated return. One can easily do that by collecting receipts and keeping a record of them in the long run. These invoices come with a separate section that mentions an underlying sales tax. This is eventually the state or local sales tax.

Learn About Income Tax For NRI

Necessities to avail Tax Deduction for US Tourists – a Comprehensive Guide

Each US state has set its regulations regarding the procedures that are necessary to be met for gathering tax refunds. Purchasing power should not be an issue for the tourist if he/she wishes to recover a decent amount in return as conditions are sometimes deliberately made trickily. 

The majority of the conditions are identical for both natives as well as people who belong from overseas. The major catch is regarding when they can proclaim a refund and where they must report getting the job done.

The primary requirements for tourists to receive Tax Refund are as follows: 

  • Minimum figure: According to the regulations set by different states, the person needs to register a minimum sum of tax per invoice or purchase session when he is visiting an offline store or brand in order to be eligible for a tax refund. For those visiting Texas, they have to secure at least $12 sales tax per invoice or combined invoices to become eligible for a tax deduction, also the bills must be issued by the same store. So if one buys items worth of minimum $150 from a single outlet and records a sales tax of 8.25% then he is fit for applying for a tax refund.
  • Submission of receipts: The applicant must be able to produce the authentic outlet receipts at the concerned tax refund centre. These branches readily discard duplicate copies or printed receipts. The foreigner must provide the original invoice in printed form. 

Online purchases are only supported through e-receipts, also the purchase must be from a reputed brand and the bill has to showcase the delivery address where the commodities had been shipped. If this place is not within the state authority, again your application turns out to be invalid. Thus packaging lips must be kept handy for each online hopping session. 

  • Time limit: The purchase against which a refund has been claimed must not take place before more than one month starting from the date of the buyer’s overseas departure or arrival to the US.  
  • Overseas journey: The person is eligible for a refund on sales tax only if he has decided to move out of the country along with the commodities he has bought to accompany him during his stay. The government at those times asks for the original invoices so that they can furnish the tax refunds. This concludes that the purchase is successful within the territories of America and for the same event the concerned individual did not pay any return to the local governing council. 
  • Physical verification: The commodities need to be presented in front of the rightful authority. The goods must be in an unused state and have to bear the price tags in the same fashion they were affixed to the product while selling. 
  • Passport, I-94: Entry stamp will be verified on the Form I-94, also one has to showcase their passport and active VISA. 
  • Departure Details: US citizens must present their boarding pass while Indians or other foreigners need to present the international trip information or show the flight tickets for the same. 
  • Item-specific policies: No tax refund is given for food items or services bought within a US state. Also, the owner must take the product with him while leaving the state otherwise the refund policy will be void. 
  • Processing charges: Processing charges are dramatically high if you apply for a tax refund. When the person asks for a cash refund the states typically charge 50% of the amount as processing charges. PayPal refunds or cheque settlements will cost you 35% of the total amount of tax refunds. 


A tax refund is a vital component on which you must gather knowledge particularly when you plan to buy plenty of things in America and return home taking that stuff along with you. 

Original receipts need to be kept handy and also every store is not registered under this state policy thus there are a couple of downsides to the tax refund policy. To grab such insight on international laws consider reading similar articles on Vakilsearch.

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