More than a quarter of low-value imports are being undervalued in an effort to avoid GST payments, a Customs investigation suggests.
Customs Minister Maurice Williamson said Customs examined 2562 express-delivery low-value imports and found 733 were undervalued to evade duty.
A total of $158,000 in lost revenue had been collected as a result of the operation, Williamson said.
The operation indicated the Government could be losing millions of dollars of revenue a year.
"High-value goods are being mis-described and undervalued to speed up border clearance and evade duty," Williamson said.
"This is an unacceptable abuse of the express pathway."
Customs' express-lane was designed for clearing low-value goods when the revenue owed was less than $60, and therefore not collected.
Everything from expensive electronics to aircraft parts were coming in under the guise of being low-value goods, Williamson said, adding that both commercial and privately imported goods were being undervalued.
In April, electronic parts imported from the United States, which were declared at $326, were discovered to have a value of $24,304, Williamson said.
The false declaration was usually made overseas at the point of dispatch and local freight companies submitted the information to Customs at face value, the minister said.
Customs was keeping a close watch and working with the freight industry to find a solution.
"People need to be aware that expensive goods bought online may actually be from overseas and liable for duty, GST, and transaction fees," he said.
Customs deals with more than four million low-value freight imports each year. They are cleared electronically to make it faster and easier for importers and freight companies.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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