Originally Posted by larrypied
So what is the charge per dollar value of the item. Say you have a towel that you paid $5, What is the duty?

Every product type has its own duty rate. The duty book is bigger than the local phone book.
When I want an accurate answer I ask a customs broker.
Also note that there is also GST and environmental tax on some or most imported items. Personally, I prefer to buy here for 'most everything.