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Customs officers waiving duties, taxes on U.S. goods brought back by travellers

OTTAWA - Busy Canadian border guards are giving many shoppers a pass on paying taxes and duties when they return from the United States, says an internal government document.

The briefing note for Prime Minister Stephen Harper lends credence to one of the Canadian retail industry's biggest complaints.

The note says the guards don't bother charging for lower-value goods, and sometimes are too busy to collect taxes and duties on higher-value items as well.

The document was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

A spokesman for the Canada Border Services Agency acknowledges that managers at busy border points sometimes have to adjust priorities, between revenue collection and catching forbidden imports or illegal visitors.

Cross-border shopping has risen as the Canadian dollar hit par with its U.S. counterpart, but economists say the recent fall in value will dampen the number of bargain-hunters heading stateside.

The Canadian Press

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