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Old 25.07.2010, 18:19
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How to avoid VAT charges on parcels from overseas?

Having a friend send me a Mac book pro from the States as much cheaper than Switzerland. What is the best way to avoid having to pay large amount for VAT or other taxes?

Does he just right the value of the parcel is 20 dollars?

Any tips appreciated
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Old 25.07.2010, 18:30
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Re: How to avoid VAT charges on parcels from overseas?

Like all crime, there's a trade-off between what you want to get away with, the likelihood of being caught and the punishment if caught.

I don't think writing "$20" as the value of a Macbook Pro is going to fool anyone.
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Old 25.07.2010, 18:32
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Re: How to avoid VAT charges on parcels from overseas?

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Having a friend send me a Mac book pro from the States as much cheaper than Switzerland. What is the best way to avoid having to pay large amount for VAT or other taxes?

Does he just right the value of the parcel is 20 dollars?

Any tips appreciated
Nature of Goods: Computer
Value: $20

perfect!
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  #4  
Old 25.07.2010, 18:32
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Re: How to avoid VAT charges on parcels from overseas?

Best way is to bring it in person I'm afraid.
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Old 25.07.2010, 18:33
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Re: How to avoid VAT charges on parcels from overseas?

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Nature of Goods: Computer
Value: $20

perfect!

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-st...s-2035148.html

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Old 25.07.2010, 18:58
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Re: How to avoid VAT charges on parcels from overseas?

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Having a friend send me a Mac book pro from the States as much cheaper than Switzerland. What is the best way to avoid having to pay large amount for VAT or other taxes?

Does he just right the value of the parcel is 20 dollars?

Any tips appreciated
It is not a good idea to greatly undervalue goods. There are a few workarounds, if the facts fit:

Goods sent from abroad for temporary use in Switzerland (or most any country) by a tourist or for a trade show or commercial exhibition are duty free, but must be re-exported.

The customs duty and VAT exemptions accorded to visiting forces (NATO troops, specifically the US military), especially in Germany, leads to a great deal of leakage of slightly-used merchandise there. The archives discuss ways of having goods delivered to borrowed addresses near the Swiss frontier.

I find that taking a flight to the USA once a year with a lengthy shopping list pays for the trip and then some. Even if all I buy are a few pairs of Timberland shoes. On the other hand, a year ago I bought a 13" MacBook Pro at John Lewis Department Store in London. It had been a demonstrator and had a ding in the cover and I got a nice discount. I took it with me to San Francisco and a friend pointed out a defect in the screen. I brought it to Apple there, and under warranty they nicely replaced the screen -- which, being part of a unitary assembly with the screen meant that I now had a perfect laptop. I also got the VAT back (since I intended to bring it to Switzerland eventually). The final cost was about the same as if I had bought it from Amazon.com without state sales tax. So not a great bargain, but quite a bit cheaper than from Apple CH.

I am not, or not yet, domiciled in Switzerland so it isn't tax fraud either.
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Old 25.07.2010, 19:01
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Re: How to avoid VAT charges on parcels from overseas?

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Like all crime, there's a trade-off between what you want to get away with, the likelihood of being caught and the punishment if caught.

I don't think writing "$20" as the value of a Macbook Pro is going to fool anyone.
if i worked at customs, i would probably mis-place it and tell the recipient to claim on insurance for $20 just to teach them a lesson
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Old 25.07.2010, 19:26
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Re: How to avoid VAT charges on parcels from overseas?

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It is not a good idea to greatly undervalue goods. There are a few workarounds, if the facts fit:

Goods sent from abroad for temporary use in Switzerland (or most any country) by a tourist or for a trade show or commercial exhibition are duty free, but must be re-exported.

The customs duty and VAT exemptions accorded to visiting forces (NATO troops, specifically the US military), especially in Germany, leads to a great deal of leakage of slightly-used merchandise there. The archives discuss ways of having goods delivered to borrowed addresses near the Swiss frontier.

I find that taking a flight to the USA once a year with a lengthy shopping list pays for the trip and then some. Even if all I buy are a few pairs of Timberland shoes. On the other hand, a year ago I bought a 13" MacBook Pro at John Lewis Department Store in London. It had been a demonstrator and had a ding in the cover and I got a nice discount. I took it with me to San Francisco and a friend pointed out a defect in the screen. I brought it to Apple there, and under warranty they nicely replaced the screen -- which, being part of a unitary assembly with the screen meant that I now had a perfect laptop. I also got the VAT back (since I intended to bring it to Switzerland eventually). The final cost was about the same as if I had bought it from Amazon.com without state sales tax. So not a great bargain, but quite a bit cheaper than from Apple CH.

I am not, or not yet, domiciled in Switzerland so it isn't tax fraud either.
Did John Lewis process the VAT return for you? What do you do at the Swiss side to pay the Swiss VAT?
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Old 25.07.2010, 19:46
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Re: How to avoid VAT charges on parcels from overseas?

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Did John Lewis process the VAT return for you? What do you do at the Swiss side to pay the Swiss VAT?
In that case I travelled from the UK to the USA. I had the EU VAT refund form stamped at Heathrow. Had I gone to Switzerland first I could have deposited the form in the box at London City.

In Switzerland I have only been assessed VAT when I've brought in lots of stuff, and then I've used a Customs broker. I paid his bill, whatever it was.

In the case of the computer, it's been across so many borders and is now a year old that assessment of VAT is unlikely. Although my recollection of UK VAT law is that you're not supposed ever to bring it back. But hey, I've got that new screen and cover.

Once I brought in some garden furniture from the UK to Switzerland in my car, had the VAT form stamped at French customs near Vallorbe. When I got to Swiss Customs they hardly let me speak even though the furniture was sitting in the back seat. What they wanted to do was to sell me a CHF 40 motorway vignette. Beyond that they seemed not to care.

In the olden days, when I had diplomatic immunity in Switzerland, my wife did most of her grocery shopping in Annemasse. There is a special exemption form that the Foreign Ministry will issue to diplomats for such journeys, but we never bothered. And only once was she stopped. And let go with just a frown.

Some time ago I gave a shipment of furniture to a Man-and-a-Van company to take it from London to Switzerland. And I gave them all the paperwork for Customs. Which they promptly lost. And I've never had a bill for Swiss tax. The professional moving company I often use told me the Eastern Europeans who run that company almost certainly claim everything in their vans is personal stuff and smuggle it. And throw away all the papers. What do I know. I finally settled with them a compromise on the lost VAT refund, crediting them what I should have been charged for the Swiss VAT. I might, or might not, have been entitled to exemption in Switzerland depending on how you read the rules on second residences.
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Old 25.07.2010, 19:56
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Re: How to avoid VAT charges on parcels from overseas?

Can they not still zap you for it at a later stage, should they find out about it?
I know of someone that bought a laptop in the UK, didn't declare it, had some trouble getting set up and called her providers hotline.

The authorities were clearly notified and gave her a very worrying time over it, she even thought she would be jailed, this was over ten years ago though, so don't know if this still applies.

In case anyone is thinking it, no, it wasn't me, matter of fact, I never did hear the outcome of that particular drama, for all I know she may be languishing away in some Swiss jail even now

Last edited by readysteadygo; 25.07.2010 at 20:20. Reason: Added smiley, as the last sentance was tongue in cheek, my daft humour in action.
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Old 25.07.2010, 20:12
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Re: How to avoid VAT charges on parcels from overseas?

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In that case I travelled from the UK to the USA. I had the EU VAT refund form stamped at Heathrow. Had I gone to Switzerland first I could have deposited the form in the box at London City.

In Switzerland I have only been assessed VAT when I've brought in lots of stuff, and then I've used a Customs broker. I paid his bill, whatever it was.

In the case of the computer, it's been across so many borders and is now a year old that assessment of VAT is unlikely. Although my recollection of UK VAT law is that you're not supposed ever to bring it back. But hey, I've got that new screen and cover.

Once I brought in some garden furniture from the UK to Switzerland in my car, had the VAT form stamped at French customs near Vallorbe. When I got to Swiss Customs they hardly let me speak even though the furniture was sitting in the back seat. What they wanted to do was to sell me a CHF 40 motorway vignette. Beyond that they seemed not to care.

In the olden days, when I had diplomatic immunity in Switzerland, my wife did most of her grocery shopping in Annemasse. There is a special exemption form that the Foreign Ministry will issue to diplomats for such journeys, but we never bothered. And only once was she stopped. And let go with just a frown.

Some time ago I gave a shipment of furniture to a Man-and-a-Van company to take it from London to Switzerland. And I gave them all the paperwork for Customs. Which they promptly lost. And I've never had a bill for Swiss tax. The professional moving company I often use told me the Eastern Europeans who run that company almost certainly claim everything in their vans is personal stuff and smuggle it. And throw away all the papers. What do I know. I finally settled with them a compromise on the lost VAT refund, crediting them what I should have been charged for the Swiss VAT. I might, or might not, have been entitled to exemption in Switzerland depending on how you read the rules on second residences.

But will there not be a similar situation where the VAT people in the UK talk to the VAT people in Switzerland and I get a bill in the post if I don't declare at the airport?
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Old 25.07.2010, 20:14
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Re: How to avoid VAT charges on parcels from overseas?

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Can they not still zap you for it at a later stage, should they find out about it?
I know of someone that bought a laptop in the UK, didn't declare it, had some trouble getting set up and called her providers hotline.

The authorities were clearly notified and gave her a very worrying time over it, she even thought she would be jailed, this was over ten years ago though, so don't know if this still applies.

In case anyone is thinking it, no, it wasn't me, matter of fact, I never did hear the outcome of that particular drama, for all I know she may be languishing away in some Swiss jail even now.
Sounds like a very tall story to me. How on earth would the provider know (or even care) whether your acquaintance had declared it?
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Old 25.07.2010, 20:16
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Re: How to avoid VAT charges on parcels from overseas?

This is what can happen.....

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/entertain...rtuosos-violin
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Old 25.07.2010, 20:16
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Re: How to avoid VAT charges on parcels from overseas?

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Can they not still zap you for it at a later stage, should they find out about it?
I know of someone that bought a laptop in the UK, didn't declare it, had some trouble getting set up and called her providers hotline.

The authorities were clearly notified and gave her a very worrying time over it, she even thought she would be jailed, this was over ten years ago though, so don't know if this still applies.

In case anyone is thinking it, no, it wasn't me, matter of fact, I never did hear the outcome of that particular drama, for all I know she may be languishing away in some Swiss jail even now.
This sounds like total drama and absolute rubbish. I highly doubt that a local internet provider would have any interest in where the computer came from or whether duty was paid on it. Not all of the computers in my house was purchased here and this is of no concern to the internet providers.

If someone sends you something new with a false value, it can be confiscated. I don't think jail is an option.
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Old 25.07.2010, 20:29
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Re: How to avoid VAT charges on parcels from overseas?

Well, at the time of our aquaintance she certainly didn't strike me as a drama seeking type, on the contrary, very down to earth, not that you have to take my word for it of course, though I do think I'm quite a good judge of character.

I believe it was she had to register it or some such thing and well she probably told them the whole story, she didn't know she had to declare it in the first place.
Ja nu, it was just a simple, if misguided question, what if?
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Old 26.07.2010, 04:55
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Re: How to avoid VAT charges on parcels from overseas?

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But will there not be a similar situation where the VAT people in the UK talk to the VAT people in Switzerland and I get a bill in the post if I don't declare at the airport?
There is a number of issues that trouble me about VAT anomalies. But first let me say that the laptop isn't (and doesn't stay) in Switzerland; indeed it's about to go back to California. (Let's leave aside California use tax.)

Switzerland, while subject to some EU law via treaty and practicality, and while it has income tax and pension totalization treaties, has no VAT agreements. As Ian Leaf and other tax fraudsters and carousel fraud VAT cheats have found, Switzerland is not necessarily a haven for them, and tax fraud is sometimes reclassified as extraditable money laundering or common-law fraud.

But because there is no VAT coordination between the UK & CH, there can be double tax. Strictly speaking, many exports are not properly eligible for UK VAT refunds on export because they are "indirect" rather than "direct": in the former, the customer arranges and pays for shipping and then in that case (as with tourist exports) s/he is ineligible for VAT refund if UK-resident or present for more than the allowed number of months.

This is largely unenforced.

There is also the issue of VAT on transport. The EC directive calls for pro-rating of VAT based on the mileage within and without the EU. But for CH, the dutiable and VAT-able value of imports includes shipping costs. http://tinyurl.com/2ujuow9
VAT on "ancillary services" (loading, unloading, assembly ...) is a further bothersome issue potentially leading to double taxation.

Fortunately there is a temporary waiver by HMRC: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/briefs/vat/brief1310.htm

Perhaps someday, as with use (i.e. sales) tax in many US states, there will be an "honesty box" equivalent on Swiss income tax declarations for unpaid VAT. Meanwhile there is little likelihood of enforcement in trivial cases. That said, there may be no statute of limitations on unpaid duty and VAT (that's true of the USA for customs duty). And Dennis Kozlowski might be able to tell you something about that. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Kozlowski

I spoke some time ago with the Man-and-a-Van operator I had used, and he said that his van on one recent journey was stopped by Swiss Customs and emptied, and all merchandise compared against documents. The procedure took several hours, at the end of which the driver was let go without payment of any tax. I have no idea what that means, or implies for his way of doing business. But I am uncomfortable doing business with such a firm, which is why I pressed him. My experience with the more expensive professional movers who get 100% of UK VAT refunded (albeit improperly, if you accept the rule on direct/indirect exports:
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/vexpmanual/vexp20300.htm
http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsP...HMCE_CL_000130 ) and uses customs brokers to assure tax-free or tax-paid import into Switzerland as the case may be (and in accordance with Swiss law) is more satisfactory.

As for your question: airport enforcement is one thing (my stuff was once X-rayed by Swiss Customs at Geneva, but because I was only staying a couple of weeks there was no real question of taxation -- nearly all the stuff was used, even that which I intended to leave behind in our vacation flat). Repeated evasion, going through the green channel is another: if you came to the attention of the authorities, either by denunciation (unlikely to be by HMRC) or by random check followed up by an audit, Kozlowski-style, then the outcome is unpredictable.

My own imports have been trivial, which is why I was happy to write about them here. While one is supposed to declare, and pay VAT on, warranty repairs done in a foreign country, and while (as I wrote above) many purchases are legally subject to double taxation (or even triple, under some sets of facts I could invent if a USA state sales tax is included, or even worse, Canadian GST and provincial tax) I know nobody so diligent and so eager to declare that s/he faces that problem. One is not, or not yet, at the stage where the Swiss mimic certain US state tax authorities and take down the car licence plate numbers of their jurisdiction's vehicles parked at malls in neighbouring states.

For what it is worth, a friend of mine once brought a van full of wine from France to England. Stopped by Customs, he explained it was for his daughter's wedding. HM Customs (as it then was) took down his information and let him go. Were he to have repeated the exercise he would have been well advised to bring with him proof that he had a second daughter getting married.

(As for readysteadygo's query the only way to make sense of it is to assume the story was garbled in the original telling. Some warranties (Apple's comes to mind) are only worldwide in relation to laptops, not to desktop machines. Unless a manufacturer tried to claim back VAT on its own returns -- something conceivable within the EU but not, I think, in Switzerland for an import) tax authorities would not be involved. Computer repairers often ring the police when they find child porn or terrorism-related materials on a computer brought in for repair. But unpaid VAT?)

Last edited by andy02; 26.07.2010 at 05:07.
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Old 26.07.2010, 16:48
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Re: How to avoid VAT charges on parcels from overseas?

It's cheaper and less hassle to get it through the EPFL here
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