Some claim that postal companies charge incorrect duty on items received in the UK from overseas. This also includes items that are supposed to be exempt from these duties. Brad Ashton of tax firm RSM UK said the charges had left people “between a rock and a hard place”. He explained that it seemed like people had no choice but to pay high fees even though they didn’t believe they were due.
Accrington Stanley FC owner Andy Holt has drawn attention to a case that has raised fears Britons are being overcharged for delivery services.
After leaving two pairs of prescription glasses in Spain he asked for them to be sent back but was told that by the time they arrived in the UK he would be required to cover the costs of a set taxes before they can be returned to him. .
A letter informed Mr Holt that ‘delivery of this package is subject to the payment of customs charges…on behalf of HM Revenue and Customs’.
These included a customs charge of £16.66, a customs clearance charge of £12 and just under £170 for import VAT.
The owner insisted it couldn’t be right.
He wrote in a post on Twitter: “I told them these are my glasses bought in this country, prescription and used.
“They are not imported in the process of being imported. They are reunited with their true owner.
Mr Holt added that when he contacted Parcel Force for advice, they said he would have to pay the charges and then claim them using a claim form.
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He notes that he will not enter into litigation himself – that issues should instead be raised directly with the government’s tax authority.
Parcelforce has refuted the allegations, reports the Telegraph, and instead blames those sending items for making mistakes on their customs declaration forms.
Simon Sutcliffe of accountants Blick Rothenberg told the newspaper that the “radical change” in tax rules post-Brexit has made it harder for people to cope with a more confusing system.
Customs duties are calculated based on the shipper’s customs declaration forms, taking into account the possibility of human error.
But Mr Sutcliffe insisted Royal Mail and others were being too ‘prescriptive’ with charges and not offering enough help when customers asked questions.
He said: “They are in a rush to get these packages through and don’t use enough discretion when something has probably been filled out incorrectly.”
A Parcelforce spokesperson said: ‘The information we submit to HMRC for assessment is entirely based on the customs declaration the sender has completed, and we are not responsible for any errors in the information we have received.
“Anyone who thinks they have been charged tax or duty from which they should have been exempt must first pay the charge and then submit a ‘BOR286’ form to HMRC, asking for the charge to be reviewed. HMRC will then refund any charges which they believe are incorrect.