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Friday 7 August, 2020

Imbert: Customs can declare value for online items

Photo via iStock.

Photo via iStock.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert lashed out at media reports of allegedly unfair charges being levied on e-couriers and customers by the Customs Division, saying that items with no value or without a ‘genuine’ invoice are given a value.

Imbert tweeted that additionally, he met with couriers in March to address any issues.

‘A review is conducted by the courier or customs to determine the value of imported goods when the value cannot be verified or the declared value is not supported with a genuine invoice.’

He said some goods are being imported with a zero value.

Imbert announced the introduction of a seven percent Online Purchase Tax in 2016 during a Budget presentation, in addition to increased taxes on alcohol and cigarettes. 

Meanwhile, local e-courier Tropical Express issued a statement following online posts from people who were unhappy with their shipping and other fees.

The company said in a social media post that their fees have not changed and that customs can attribute a value if they are ‘do not agree’ with the declared value:

‘If the officer does not agree with the value with or without corresponding invoice or description/ classification presented they can and will uplift the value or change classification.

‘This is being done at their discretion.’

‘Hence why we introduced the PRE-ALERT feature for all incoming shipments on our website https://shiptropical.com/pre-alert-package.  Your pre-alert will not be valid without a proper tracking number and uploaded invoice. This will allow us to better provide proof of the values to bring forth to the officers.’

‘Please keep in mind, Tropical Express would have to adhere to the officers' estimated value again, at their discretion.’

The company said there were no increases in their shipping fees.

One person showed what appeared to be a receipt in which the overall fees were almost the same as the value of the item, while another also complained of high customs charges.

The company said the customer can file a claim with customs, but said it would not be liable for any overcharges.

‘If you do not agree with the customs charges, you have every right to lodge a claim with customs and we will assist you in doing so. Since you are the direct owner of the package we regrettably won't be able to contest any overcharges that may occur at Customs and Excise on your behalf.’

Customers wishing to query customs taxes and fees on their online items can contact Customs House (Port-of-Spain) at 625-3311.

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