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€54.50 tax on a €212 mobile phone - Tax office warns of a costly sting in the tail of online non-EU shopping

Online shoppers should be aware that additional charges can apply once the purchased goods arrive in Ireland

Black Friday cyber monday

Sting in the tail of online purchase

Ireland's tax officers at Revenue have warned online shoppers of additional costs when they click and buy from international sellers.

In the run-up to one of the busiest times of the year for ordering gifts and goods online, Revenue has reminded shoppers to be aware that while the price of goods advertised online can seem attractively low, this may be because tax and duty have not been included in the price advertised.

However, it warns that online shoppers should be aware that additional charges can apply once the purchased goods arrive in Ireland.

Ms Maureen Dalton, Principal Officer in Revenue’s Customs Division, outlined that online shoppers need to be aware of potential additional charges before buying.

“Almost all goods arriving from non-EU countries will be liable to tax and duty. If you shop online, you need to check whether the advertised price includes any tax and duty costs due before you make your decision to buy the goods concerned,” she said.

Last year, Revenue officers in postal depots around the country applied charges to almost 100,000 parcels and packets.

The average duty and VAT charge per parcel was €68.66. Ms Dalton explained how these charges might arise.

“If the cost of the goods you buy, including transport, insurance and handling charges, is more than €22 you will have to pay VAT. If your goods alone cost more than €150 you will have to pay Customs Duty and VAT. For example, if you bought a mobile phone online from China, at an equivalent cost of €212, you would have to pay an additional €54.50 in Customs Duty, VAT, insurance and handling fees. When you buy alcohol and tobacco products online from outside the EU, VAT, Customs Duty and Excise Duty, are payable, regardless of the value of your purchase.”

“However, online shoppers also need to be aware that while almost all goods arriving from EU countries are not liable to tax and duty, alcohol and tobacco products arriving from another EU Member State are liable to Excise Duty and VAT. For example, the Excise Duty, VAT and handling fee on an average case of 12 bottles of sparkling wine, originating in another EU country, could add up to €119.27 to your purchase price,” she said.

Ms Dalton concluded her advice to online shoppers by saying that people should make sure they are clear on the actual or real cost of a product before you order it online.

"This will ensure you not faced with any additional unanticipated charges when you take delivery,” she said.

Further information on tax and duty charges that may arise on goods bought online for personal use can be found here.

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