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Bossier City's tax-free district gets refund center for international visitors

The Louisiana Tax Free Shopping Program has opened a sales tax refund center at the Outlets at Louisiana Boardwalk in Bossier City. The program that began 25 years ago in the state aims to attract foreign visitors by offering sales tax refunds on purchases of clothing, electronics and other personal items. The program’s executive director Denise Thevenot spoke at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new refund center yesterday. She said international visitors spent almost $27 million through the program last year, resulting in $2.2 million  in refunds. Her goal is to provide a more streamlined shopping experience by installing refund centers at shopping malls.

"A happier traveler comes back," Thevenot said. "If international visitors are here we want to offer this to them so they’ll shop more while they're here, or make a return visit. They’ll go to Texas and Louisiana, and shop more here."

Helen Jancke, 18, of Berlin, Germany, is in Shreveport for a month. She was the first to use the new refund center that processes the paperwork for shoppers to receive cash refunds for sales taxes on the spot.

“The things in the U.S.A. are cheaper than they are in Germany, and often clothing is cheaper than in Germany. So, it’s also reason to buy stuff here. But getting taxes off is an even better reason," Jancke said.

A report by Visa that tracks credit card purchases, VisaVue, revealed that international visitors spent almost $2.56 million in Shreveport/Bossier last year. The Boardwalk is one of 11 tax-free shopping districts in Louisiana. There are six refund centers in the state.