Retrospective duty demands – the customs authorities demand payment retrospectively

Retrospective duty demands are very irritating for enterprises. Often the business was calculated on basis of the customs declaration and thus can show a deficit suddenly. But such retrospective duty demands are not always justified.

The duties are assessed on account of the customs declaration. Generally, enterprises are represented in this connection by forwarding agencies, who prepare the customs declaration. Many enterprises think to be on the safe side by acting this way.

Enterprises are liable for wrong customs declarations of the forwarding agencies

It is a matter of fact, however, that these forwarding agencies are acting as agents of the importing companies. This means that the company itself is bearing the risk that the customs declaration is correct. Should this not be the case, then retrospective duty demands are probable as these can be assessed afterwards. Even if most of the customs declarations are done correctly, we,nevertheless, also often find wrong declarations

Especially the dutiable value is often objected to, because the declaration was wrong.

Partly this is on account of thoughtlessness, but partly also on account of a lack of knowledge on the processes in the importing enterprises or in respect of the nature of the goods. So, goods can be classified under a wrong tariff (e.g. under a wrong CN Code with low duties) or additionally necessary amounts were not calculated (in practice these are often the royalties).

Customs audits often lead to retrospective payments

Often the customs auditor finds out during his customs audits that incorrect customs declarations were made in the past. In such cases the principal customs office will demand payment retrospectively. The enterprises in question then have to pay the difference between the import duties paid and the import duties actually due. This means that duties and turnover tax on imports have to be paid retroactively.

And this retrospective payment is only the top of the iceberg. Often, proceedings for administrative offence are initiated, too. In the worst case even criminal proceedings.

Consequences of incorrect customs declarations:

  • Retrospective payments of customs duties and retrospective payment of turnover tax on imports
  • Adverse effects on valuation/rating of the participants
  • Proceedings for administrative offence and criminal proceedings

This list is not a final one, but shows that you should do something against incorrect customs assessments.

Not every subsequent payment is justified

Not every subsequent payment assessed by the customs for customs duties, however, is justified. The principal customs offices partly try to claim for subsequent payments that are not legally founded.

It is laid down precisely in the Customs Code in what case a so-called “subsequent entering in the accounts – i.e. the subsequent assessment of import duties in Germany and the European Union – is allowed. If these requirements are not satisfied, a subsequent duty demand is not possible.

Contact us if you received a notice of assessment from the customs authorities for a subsequent payment of duties. We will check whether you have a claim for the return of overpayments, we will object against it if it is not justified and can also start proceedings before the relevant fiscal courts.