AUSTRALIAN Border Force officials issued demands for payments of nearly $2m to importers of overseas vessels after they undervalued the commercial craft.

In the worst case, an investigation by Australian Border Force customs compliance officers discovered a dredging vessel recently imported into Queensland was undervalued by more than $15m.

At the end of the investigation the value of the vessel was amended to just over A$65,840,000, which resulted in a demand for additional Goods and Services Tax (GST) of $1,564,281.80.

In the second case, ABF officers found the broker for a tug boat imported to work in the Pilbara had also incorrectly reported the value of the vessel by US$1,734,200.

Based on the vessel’s amended value of just over US$8.6m, the broker was required to pay an additional A$250,000 in GST.

In an unrelated investigation also involving a vessel, the broker of a dredger imported into the Northern Territory was required to pay an additional $20,549 in Duty and GST for understating the amount of marine diesel fuel and lube oil it was carrying.

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Imported fuel products are subject to an equivalent customs duty instead of excise duty unless they are used in excise manufacture (excluding biofuels).

ABF acting commander Steve Evans said the three cases served as a reminder for all Australian businesses of the requirement to correctly declare their imports.

“Importers who don’t pay the correct amount of duty and GST are depriving the Australian economy and ultimately Australian taxpayers,” Acting commander Evans said.

“Failure to comply can result in severe penalties, or the suspension or cancellation of licences and potentially prosecution.”

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