Monday 19 August 2019

Online bargain-hunters warned over possible Black Friday tax bills

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Charlie Weston and Paul Melia

Bargain-hunters who buy online have been warned they could end up with a tax bill that will wipe out any savings they thought they had secured.

Most goods bought from outside the European Union (EU) will be liable to tax and duty if they are over a certain value, Revenue warned.

Officials from the tax authority said average charges of almost €29 were applied to more than 76,000 packages at postal depots around the country.

The warning comes as thousands go online in the hope of securing a Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal ahead of Christmas.

Revenue said online shoppers may snap up what they see as bargains. But they have been warned to watch out for prices for popular goods that seem especially low.

"This may be because tax and duty has not been accounted for," it said. "However, once your goods arrive in the State, you are liable for the additional charges and non-payment can result in your goods being seized."

Almost all goods arriving from countries outside the EU and European free trade area will be liable to tax and duty.

Goods priced at more than €22 are liable for VAT. This figure includes the cost of postage and other charges such as insurance and handling fees. Goods costing more than €150 will also be liable for customs duty.

Revenue said adding in VAT and customs duty on the price of a branded mobile phone bought from a US website could leave the recipient liable to a Revenue bill of €250.

Revenue operates a free phone number for those with queries on taxes due on online goods at 1800 295 295.

Meanwhile, a report from recycling group Repak says online retailers are putting 7,250 tonnes of packaging onto the market every year, up 28pc year on year, but not paying anything towards the cost of its disposal.

Companies including Amazon, eBay, Missguided and Bohoo generate the equivalent packaging of a town of 16,000 people, Repak said, but because they were not members of Repak, others had to foot the bill.

"This amounts to an abuse of the Irish recycling system and the Government must respond," said Séamus Clancy, CEO of Repak Recycling.

Irish Independent

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