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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok I want to order another guitar from the US.

Here in Europe most countries (mine included) will do some import taxes before you get it.
However I received several US packages, that had no tax, due to how it was declared on the shipping box (Pedaleffectswarehouse does that...). I think it is declared similar if you are an endorser and get a free product...

Now I talked to my lawyer and he says: This is not illegal from the US vendor point of view, as he can state on an invoice I "payed for a service and the product is free" and also not illegal from my point as I only got a free product.
Of course this is somehow a "gray zone" and bends the European tax laws...

As we pay enough taxes already in Europe, I would love to get around that import tax on a new guitar. Any recommendations?
 

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if it's a bolt-on neck guitar, get it sent in two different packages as "guitar spares". It's worth the extra shipping. Also means dividing the value if it's a particularly expensive guitar that you don't want to risk declaring lower value for insurance purposes. Has always worked for me ;) I have also used the method of declaring it as used equipment being returned to owner, which seemed to work too.

There is, of course, the option of just being honest and declaring as is, if the guitar was a bargain in the first place. Sometimes the peace of mind makes it worth while
 

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I used to play in a band where the bassist was a Customs inspector, he used to get to visit all sorts of airports to investigate the value of guitars. I'd say it's not worth it.

As far as I know, technically import taxes (certainly into the UK) are payable on any puchased product new to the EU whether spares or not.
 

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Ok I want to order another guitar from the US.

Here in Europe most countries (mine included) will do some import taxes before you get it.
However I received several US packages, that had no tax, due to how it was declared on the shipping box (Pedaleffectswarehouse does that...). I think it is declared similar if you are an endorser and get a free product...

Now I talked to my lawyer and he says: This is not illegal from the US vendor point of view, as he can state on an invoice I "payed for a service and the product is free" and also not illegal from my point as I only got a free product.
Of course this is somehow a "gray zone" and bends the European tax laws...

As we pay enough taxes already in Europe, I would love to get around that import tax on a new guitar. Any recommendations?
Let me just start by saying, I thought lawyers were supposed to be smart? The one you have is an idiot and I would find another immediately. Or, tell him to at least read a law book or two.

Ever export declaration in the world will have language in it similar to this, last sentance of a FedEx form -

Submission of false information may result in civil or criminal penalties (18 USC 1001, 31 USC 3802).

18 USC 1001
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/usc_sec_18_00001001----000-.html

1001. Statements or entries generally
How Current is This? (a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully-

(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;

shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both. If the matter relates to an offense under chapter 109A, 109B, 110, or 117, or section 1591, then the term of imprisonment imposed under this section shall be not more than 8 years.


31 USC 3802
https://www.smartwebmove.navsup.navy.mil/swm/documents/SWM23FalseSubmit3802.pdf

UNITED STATES CODE
TITLE 31. MONEY AND FINANCE
SUBTITLE III--FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
CHAPTER 38--ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES FOR FALSE CLAIMS AND STATEMENTS
Section 3802. False Claims and Statements; Liability.
(a) (1) Any person who makes, presents, or submits, or causes to be made, presented, or submitted, a claim that
the person knows or has reason to know--
(A) is false, fictitious, or fraudulent;
(B) includes or is supported by any written statement which asserts a material fact which is false,
fictitious, or fraudulent;
(C) includes or is supported by any written statement that--
(i) omits a material fact;
(ii) is false, fictitious, or fraudulent as a result of such omission; and
(iii) is a statement in which the person making, presenting, or submitting such statement has a duty to include such material fact; or
(D) is for payment for the provision of property or services which the person has not provided as claimed, shall be subject to, in addition to any other remedy that may be prescribed by law, a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 for each such claim. Except as provided in paragraph (3) of this subsection, such person shall also be subject to an assessment, in lieu of damages sustained by the United States because of such claim, of not more than twice the amount of such claim, or the portion of such claim, which is determined under this chapter to be in violation of the preceding sentence.


Now that is the LAW. Individuals can get away with it for the most part because who's to know? Dealers can be audited at any time and if this is found in their records, can end any business very quickly, much less put you behind bars for too much time.

You want the flip side?

There are huge penalties if you get caught by customs on your end. I had a client that would doctor his receipts [Excell files] and have me ship to ND to cross the border, pickup, and carry back into Canada. He bought a GB30th for $7000. Tried to declare it at $2000. The customs agent hit the internet, found out list price was $13,000, and charged him a fine of $4000 for the attempt to deceive customs, and then charged him 20% of the $13,000 list price!!! $6600 it cost him, or $13,600 total. More than the total list of the guitar to begin with.

And he's now on a watch list for anything crossing the border in his name.......
 

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There are huge penalties if you get caught by customs on your end. I had a client that would doctor his receipts [Excell files] and have me ship to ND to cross the border, pickup, and carry back into Canada. He bought a GB30th for $7000. Tried to declare it at $2000. The customs agent hit the internet, found out list price was $13,000, and charged him a fine of $4000 for the attempt to deceive customs, and then charged him 20% of the $13,000 list price!!! $6600 it cost him, or $13,600 total. More than the total list of the guitar to begin with.

And he's now on a watch list for anything crossing the border in his name.......
Man... that is extremely brutal! sounds like that customs agent took his job a little too seriously. How could the customs agent tell if the guitar was old/new? For all the agent knew, he could have bought the guitar at a yard sale for $600 bucks.
 

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Customs agents are not stupid, and anybody that would claim they bought a year old $13,333 guitar at a yard sale for $600, and think it would be believed without questioning, would be the stupid one.

The customs agent is there to do his job the way he's supposed to. Do you think they're not aware people try to undervalue, "return to sender", "return from service", gift, or the rest of the ways to slip by customs?! Every customs agent I ever had to deal with in person was no different than a cop, suspicious about everything, and with the legal power to put a hurt on you if the situation warranted.
 

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After reading what Rich posted just pay the import duty!! Sounds like they take any attempt to pull a fast one very seriously. I'm not sure what it is in Austria but I'm assuming might be similar to the UK ie around 20%. You also have to pay VAT on the import duty as well I think. If you are buying from another EU member state there is no duty to pay but from the US you'll just have to take the hit I guess.

Here's an online import duty calculator. Now I don't know how accurate this is but it may give you some idea of the charges you will incur.

http://www.dutycalculator.com/
 

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Customs agents are not stupid, and anybody that would claim they bought a year old $13,333 guitar at a yard sale for $600, and think it would be believed without questioning, would be the stupid one.

The customs agent is there to do his job the way he's supposed to. Do you think they're not aware people try to undervalue, "return to sender", "return from service", gift, or the rest of the ways to slip by customs?! Every customs agent I ever had to deal with in person was no different than a cop, suspicious about everything, and with the legal power to put a hurt on you if the situation warranted.
I suppose I underestimated the fact that people take their jobs too seriously. You couldn't pay me as much as they make and expect me to ruin peoples lives financially just to prove a point. The agent could have handled that a lot differently.
 

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Take their job too serious?! Are you kidding? That IS his job!! To find who's trying to cheat his government and make them pay! It's no different than an IRS agent and you cheating on your taxes.

Just for the record, he had 2 options, pay the fines and the duty, or go directly to jail.
 

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I suppose I underestimated the fact that people take their jobs too seriously. You couldn't pay me as much as they make and expect me to ruin peoples lives financially just to prove a point. The agent could have handled that a lot differently.
Hell if people are trying to scam the country out of money they owe, I'd slap bigger fines on them than that just for the ya-yas. Hell I'd have the cheapskates working chain gangs in the Alabama swamp lands for illegal guitar smuggling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for all the advice :)

You ought to know, we Europeans are a little different.
Here it is a profession to screw your government for taxes and I guess it would be in the US too if the government would screw you for 50% of your money every month....
Yep that is right, if I make 3000 euros this month, only 1500 will make it to my account...
Lucky for us we even have well respected professionals that screw them back through loopholes in the law, so they might only take 40-45% for a reasonable fee....

Anyone got a green card? :p
 
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