As recently reported in this story in the Australian (Businessman-alan-thiess-loses-out-on-duty-gst-paid-to-import-yacht), it’s very important to make sure that you’re not overpaying customs duty, and don’t think for a minute that Customs will tell you if you are.
This was painfully highlighted in this case, where businessman Alan Thiess – heir to construction magnate Sir Lesley Thiess – ended up paying almost AUD$544,000 on the import of a luxury AUD$7.5M Sunseeker 108 yacht that it turned out he shouldn’t have had to pay.
The case hinged around the gross weight of the yacht, which determined whether duty was applicable or not. Imports of vessels over 150 tonnes are not subject to duty, and those under this threshold are. The mistake was made by the customs agent, who believed the gross weight was 108 tonnes, when it was in fact 150 tonnes. The import occurred in 2004 and it was only two years later, in 2006 that Thiess realised he should not have had to pay the duty, when he wanted to sell it.
The legislation allows a 6 month grace period during which you can appeal the duty rate, but this of course had passed well before. Thiess pursued the matter through the courts, after having failed to persuade the Department of Finance and Administration in Canberra to refund the duty as an ‘act of grace’, and this concluded recently with a High Court judgement ruling that the legislation was “quite emphatic in barring any recovery action outside the six-month period”.
Make sure you don’t miss out on any potential savings with your next import and book a consultation with one of our experienced brokers.