Online shoppers face unwelcome tax surprise

Revenue levied about €68m in tax on gifts last year after intercepting goods at postal sorting depots

Online shopping can lead to surprise additional tax charges before Revenue will release your goods. File photograph: Getty

Online shopping can lead to surprise additional tax charges before Revenue will release your goods. File photograph: Getty

 

Online shoppers buying goods from outside the European Union in the run-up to Christmas will likely face additional tax charges, the Revenue Commissioners have warned. The warning comes ahead of the busiest times of the year for online shopping.

The tax authority has urged shoppers to check that the purchase price includes all necessary taxes before hitting the “buy now” button. Most goods purchased from other EU countries will not incur additional charges but buyers need to be sure where their online shopping is sourced.

Shoppers got an unwelcome surprise last year as Revenue collected about €6.8 million on the doorstep before releasing gifts ordered online. About 100,000 parcels were intercepted by Revenue officers at postal depots around the State. The average duty and VAT charge per parcel was €68.66, said Revenue.

“Almost all goods arriving from non-EU countries will be liable to tax and duty,” said Maureen Dalton, principal office in Revenue’s customs division. “If the cost of the goods you buy, including transport, insurance and handling charges, is more than €22 you will have to pay VAT. If your goods alone cost more than €150 you will have to pay customs duty and VAT.”

And if you are buying alcohol and tobacco, you could well face charges even if they come from another EU country.

“When you buy alcohol and tobacco products online from outside the EU, VAT, customs duty and excise duty are payable, regardless of the value of your purchase,” said Ms Dalton. And, while almost all goods arriving from EU countries are not liable to tax and duty, “alcohol and tobacco products arriving from another EU member state are liable to excise duty and VAT”.

“For example, the excise duty, VAT and handling fee on an average case of 12 bottles of sparkling wine, originating in another EU country, could add up to €119.27 to your purchase price.”

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