When tax refund season rolls around, you might have the urge to take those extra funds and travel. And while you could just go anywhere you please, why not get the most bang for your tax refund by heading to destinations where you don’t have to pay any sales tax? We’ve rounded up some of the best destinations for tax-free shopping along with what items you’ll want to nab from each locale.
You don’t have to head over the pond to take advantage of sales-tax-free destinations. Portland, Oregon is just one of the few places in the US where you can shop without paying sales tax. As Oregon’s largest city, you can expect to find a wealth of shopping districts and neighborhoods where you can stretch your refund. Plus, you’ll also find that Portland’s location, within close range to beautiful mountains and the ocean, is just perfect for that next holiday.
Thanks to its quirky urban culture, much of the finds in Portland favor those seeking arts and crafts. Shoppers can begin at the Portland Saturday Market, the largest arts-and-crafts fair in the country. Open every Saturday and Sunday from March through December, the market offers arts and crafts from more than 250 merchants. A treasure trove of antique jewelry, soaps, silverware art, and organic teas abound at this Portland shopping staple. Other shopping neighborhoods and districts to peruse while you’re in town include Pioneer Place for big brand stores and the Pearl District for local mainstays like Powell’s City Books, which spans a whole block and houses more than 1.5 million books.
Morocco, a country known for its souks, doesn’t disappoint those looking to shop sales-tax free. Tax-free shopping in Morocco is available to tourists who don’t reside in the country. There are a few exceptions like food, tobacco, medicines, and gemstones. Part of the appeal in shopping in Morocco is that many of the products are handmade locally. Moroccan leather, for example, is still tanned in medieval fashion, as it has been for centuries. Proud to be home to the largest untouched old city in the world, Fez is full of with treasures. Entire streets are often filled with artisans dedicated to a certain trade, from woodwork to babouches, or slippers, to leatherwork.
You can pick up all your leather goods in places like the Chouara Tannery of Fez where leather is still worked according to traditional methods. In addition to leather, Morocco is known the world over for its handmade rugs. Not only can you snag a rug in Fez but you can often watch the process of how they are made in the carpet shops. Other items that you can find in Fez include argan oil, lanterns, pottery and djellabas (traditional Moroccan dress).
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Known across South America for its shopping, Buenos Aires lends a thriving retail scene where you can often find great deals on high-quality products. You can shop sales-tax free in Buenos Aires if you don’t live permanently in the country and don’t hold an Argentinean passport. You also only obtain a tax refund on goods made in Argentina; luckily for travelers, Argentina produces quite a few appealing souvenirs.
The city known for its colonial architecture, fine wines, and lively tango scene is also a shopper’s dream. If you are in the market for leather, the city offers a number of outlets selling quality leather goods produced in Argentina. Buenos Aires is also a good spot for independent local shopping. The city has experienced an upward trend of independent designers opening up tiny boutiques. These shops tend to offer a wide range of items from clothing to jewelry and housewares to leather goods. Some of the main shopping areas include Recoleta, where you’ll find much of the country’s top boutiques; the Palermo Viejo district for hip local boutiques; and San Telmo, famous for its antique shops.
Travelers heading to Australia with their tax refunds will find the country’s Tourist Refund Scheme allows their dollars to go a bit further. The program invites both Australians and overseas visitors to claim a refund for goods bought in the country and then taken out of Australia. One of the best cities to base yourself for a shopping getaway is easily Sydney. Located on one of the most impressive harbors on the planet, the laid-back city is full of shopping opportunities.
You’ll probably have a hard time resisting some Australian specialties like Aboriginal artwork, opal jewelry, and sheepskin boots. Across the country’s cities, especially in Sydney, high-end shopping abounds along with specialty markets. You can visit the Kirribilli Art, Design and Fashion Market for ceramics, homewares, and local fashions from up-and-coming designers; the Rocks Markets for decidedly Australian goods; and Paddington Markets, where emerging designers sell their goods across 150 stalls. Shoppers will also want to save room on their credit cards for a visit to Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building — a Victorian shopping arcade with around 200 boutiques, many of which showcase Australian designs.
Shopping and Tokyo go hand in hand. You’ll usually pay a tax on the price of marketed goods while in town and can then obtain a refund for those taxes, generally right in the store where the purchase was made.
From high-end to offbeat, traditional crafts to cutting edge electronics, Tokyo has a diverse shopping scene. You can begin shopping until you drop in the Ginza neighborhood, home to the city’s posh shops and department stores. For a more hipster experience, head to Kuramae, an old warehouse district loaded with young artisan shops. If electronics are the order of the day, Tokyo’s Akihabara neighborhood is the main hub of all things tech. And if you’re just seeking Japanese designer clothing, you’ll find Aoyama boasts the city’s largest cluster of shops from Japanese designers.
In a city of world-renowned museums, galleries, monuments, and cafe culture, it comes as no surprise that Paris also has an iconic shopping scene too. Locals are known for their impeccable sense of style, making a shopping trip there all the more enticing. The city is yet another sales-tax-free destination where if you meet the minimum purchase amount of 175.01 Euros, you are eligible for a tax refund on goods taken home in your personal luggage.
Shopping alone attracts millions of visitors a year to the City of Light. You’ll find plenty of great buys, from scoring a wardrobe staple from high-end brands like Hermés to the more low-key option of picking up the city’s legendary sweets like rainbow-colored macarons or decadent pralines. Paris’s flea markets offer a gold mine of antiques while legendary products like a candle from Claude Trudon, the world’s oldest candle maker, provide visitors with the chance to bring home something truly special.
Tax refund season presents the perfect excuse to do a little bit of traveling. By visiting these sales-tax-free destinations, your refund can stretch even further across the globe!
Where are you taking your tax refund this year? Let us know in the comments.