Archive for August, 2012

ESTA Tourist Tax

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

So I’m off to good ol’ USofA on Saturday. Whoop, whoop.

Like any other foreign visitor to the US, I had to “register” my travel with ESTA by filling out an online form, stating who I am, passport number, where I’m staying, if I’m a terrorist, blah, blah. It takes 5 mins to complete and seems mostly useless. Ah yes, and you also have to pay $14 for the privilege. So, it’s just a tax after all.

You’d be right in thinking that $14 is not a huge sum of money in the grand scheme of things, so, so what? It’s all in the message dude. And for me the message says:

– America is penny pinching and mean

– America is obsessed with money, mostly yours.

– America doesn’t like foreigners

That’s not good, is it.

Of course these are all subconscious thoughts, embedded somewhere inside me – perhaps forever, waiting for their turn to have a say.

So next time I think about taking a holiday in the US with my family, I might just forgo the glitz of Disney World and settle for the tranquil banana trees and volcanic beaches of Tenerife. Or when I think about expanding my growing (and sadly fictional) international business, I might just feel that Toronto is – on balance – a better slightly better choice.

We absolutely need taxes for society to function fairly, but if those trusted with collecting them abused that trust, then folks will just try and, well, avoid paying them altogether. Sound familiar?

Often big decisions are made from gut instinct. And it is in my gut where the legacy of that $14 tax also lives.