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HM Customs warns of e-Xmas duty

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With boffins predicting another bumper e-Xmas, officials in the UK are advising shoppers that they face import taxes and VAT if they buy pressies from overseas.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has rather thoughtfully warned e-shoppers that buying goods that originate from outside the EU could land them with more than they'd bargained for.

That's because goods purchased over the net from countries such as the US are liable for Customs import duty (if the amount of duty is £7 and over) and VAT (if the value of the goods is £18 and over).

And it doesn't matter whether the goods are received as a gift, are new or used, or are part of a private sale. If the tax is payable then HM Customs will be after their slice.

Customs Anti-Smuggling bod Phil Colclough said the warning was meant to help e-shoppers "avoid any confusion about what tax they need to pay".

"Many people often don't realise that they have to pay charges on purchases delivered from overseas. We don't want to put people off internet shopping, where there are undoubtedly bargains to be found.

"However, we do want to make sure that online shoppers are quite clear about the full costs involved, and that there are no unpleasant surprises when the postman knocks at the door," he said Which is why HMRC added: "Don't let parcels cost you a packet." Geddit? Don't let parcels cost you a packet? Parcels. Packet. Oh, please yourself. ®

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