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Feedback On Anderton's Import Tax

11 April 2002

We received this press release from Customs, in response to our earlier article "Institute Opposes Latest Anti-Business Tax:"

"The New Zealand Customs Service is concerned there appears to be some confusion about the proposed Import Transaction fee, as reflected in comments by Daniel Silva of the Importers Institute.

"The Government's intention is to introduce a fee of $16 plus GST from I July 2002, applying to each commercial import entry and import declaration for goods with a duty and/or GST liability greater than $50. Private import declarations under the value of $1000 will not be charged.

"The fee is intended to cover the cost of Customs efficient and business-friendly imported goods clearance service.

"It is quite separate from the current charge for electronic transfer of information by ECN, contrary to the impression created by recent comments by Daniel Silva.

"The current electronic import/export clearance service consists of two elements - the delivery of information from the importer to Customs and back, and the clearance of imported goods by Customs based on that information.

"Importers currently pay a fee to an independent company, ECN, for the electronic delivery of the information. This charge, which is around 40 cents per transaction, can be likened to paying for a postage stamp.

"The clearance of imported goods using that information is carried out by Customs and the cost is currently met by the taxpayer. The government is proposing that importers contribute to that cost through the Import Transaction Fee.

"The clearance cost includes the full range of Customs processes around the import of goods including: * monitoring importers compliance with tariff, rules of origin and other relevant national and international regulations, * analysing information to identify potential risk shipments * physical inspection of potential risk shipments * any subsequent investigations * audits of importers' duty and excise compliance.

"A parliamentary select committee is currently considering the Customs and Excise Amendment bill, which provides for the establishment of the fee.

"Customs will keep the importing community informed of the progress of the legislation."

[The Editor replies]: The new fee of $18 (including GST) is planned for introduction on 1 July, not 1 June as our article incorrectly stated. We stand by everything else in that article. The comparison with electronic transmission systems used in other countries is indeed facile, but it was made by Mr Anderton, not us. It is true that the costs of having a Customs Department, like those of having a Police force, are met from taxes. That is what taxes are for.


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