Ooo, boy did I get stung this morning. I really feel like I took another step towards becoming a Fully-Fledged Adult today. And if this is what Adulthood consists of I’d rather hide away under my books and keep eating sweets until my teeth fall out than face it. Tax. *Shudder*
Perhaps a huge ignorance on my part, but I had my first taste of feeling a gross injustice with this country and the system. Recently I began part time work again and have been unfairly taxed due to paperwork not having gone through the necessary departments on time. While a minor irritation, this should be no problem, as they tell me I will be reimbursed come the next tax year. April 2008. Well, what can you do?
But not tax on part time salary. No, this was tax on a present. My new electronic dictionary to be precise. One private gift from an overseas country to another that has been bought, item and its value declared truthfully and postage fully paid for. And what do I get for this honesty? A £56.22 pence slap-bang import tax! This being on top of the £200 I’d already paid for the new dictionary! And the delay in receiving it due to their calculating taxes! My expletives and rage were unregistered. I don’t usually get too hung up on money, but this really brought down the house. I hope the neighbours weren’t too offended…
Let’s break it down, as they so kindly did for me in the invoice they sent…
Import Duty: £7.23
Parcelforce Clearance Fee: £13.50
So this time my naïveté really got the better of me. Something to ‘put down to experience’ I guess. After reading up online, it seems that we are subject to customs charges:
For goods moving within the EU, import duties and taxes do not usually apply. However, for goods imported from non-EU countries, Customs charges do apply, these may include import duty, excise duty and import VAT. Goods with a value exceeding £18 (for commercial items including internet/mail order purchases), or £36 in the case of gifts between private individuals, are generally subject to Customs charges. Normally charges are calculated upon the declared value (plus postage for commercial items).
So why wasn’t I hit with these taxes when I sent numerous very heavy, expensive packages full of stuff back from Japan? Apparently these customs searches are a little random, or they tend to hone in on the expensive-looking packages, so my beaten-up boxes from Japan probably didn’t excite their interest… In other words, I got lucky.
So yes, today I became very angry at the government and systems in this country. I’m sure I made many an old codger who has lived here long enough proud. But in the more positive sense, it has yet again re-affirmed my desire to leave this country for new lands. And I continue down the road to better understanding money.
So a word of warning to all those buying or importing to the U.K from overseas: Tell the truth on the value and contents of your packages and you risk being hit with these nonsensical and downright insulting taxes. Lie on your declaration and get caught, and you risk not receiving your desirables at all. Their filthy little hands will have snatched your prize before it gets there.
Pay their shiny site a visit! HM Revenue