Not sure if this is the right category for this subject but it is hobby related. Bear with me.
I have just returned from a trip to the USA and we have also just received our first Christmas parcel, from relatives in Australia for our three grandchildren. I thought I would share the experience with you.
The tax-free allowance this year is £390 per person for all goods other than exciseable goods such as spirits, wine and tobacco etc - this is way more than the £28 on my first trip in 1992 and is an increase on what it was until a couple of years ago at £145 - it was £345 last year from memory. This means that either shopping trips to New York or your favourite hobby store got a whole lot cheaper by 20% at least or your conscience going thorugh the green channel got a lot clearer. So bear that in mind; also bear in mind that books and magazines do not attract a charge to VAT - nor do children's clothing which leads on to the next item....
Because the Customs declaration is made out by the sender you in the UK receiving it are a hostage to fortune. A couple of years ago I ordered a single DVD from a supplier in the USA - good deal. problem was the person filling out the declaration put five DVds and a commensurate value - five times what I paid! I got clobbered....
Lesson 1 - if the description is wrong you cannot argue against any resulting overcharge.
Now the parcel last week - contained children's clothing and some cuddly toys - declared as such on the form on the parcel. But UK Border Agency charged VAT on the whole value plus the Royal Mail (mis)handling charge of £8. Now if THEY get it wrong, i.e. misread the declaration, you can ask for a refund. The children's clothing was near 70% of total by value (get evidence from the sender). This takes it below the £40 threshold for tax-free relief - we should never have been charged anything! I have applied for a refund pointing out that the internationally accepted Custome form does not require or provide for values to be ascribed to each item in the package and thus we all complied but the person clearing ours got a bit officious and charged it all. So beware, Rip-Off Border Agency is trying to tax Christmas more than is right or fair.
Lesson 2 - check the Customs charge form on parcel to see if it has been calculated correctly in line with the description provided - there is a form to claim for overcharged tax - see HMRC website (www.hmrc.gov.uk)to download. Ours has gone off today.....
If it doesn't fit above, try here!
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