Woman pays R2?000 to receive gift from Australia

2014-08-08 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG woman’s joy at receiving a gift from abroad turned to outrage when told she had to pay R2 000 in customs duties.

Francie Viljoen of Chase Valley Heights was happy when she got a message from her sister in Australia to say she was sending gifts for her daughter’s baby shower.

Viljoen said, “My sister has been in Australia since 2005. Every year she sends me two presents — one for my birthday and one for Christmas.”

She said all this time she has never had to pay for the gifts.

“But this year, I was shocked that I had to pay R2 000 for soap, cream, shampoo, towels, a nightdress and soft toys. I can’t send the parcel back because it would break my sister’s heart if I did that and so I paid the money.”

Viljoen said she already pays a lot in taxes and would not have minded paying if she had bought the items from overseas herself.

“Must I tell my sister to stop sending me gifts, because I shouldn’t be paying for presents?” she asked.

South African Revenue Services deputy spokesperson Marika Muller said a person can receive two gifts per annum, to the value of R400 each, without paying any duty.

Muller said these include, but are not limited to, wedding and birthday presents.

She said consumables like wines, spirits, tobacco (including cigarettes and cigars) and perfume are excluded from the list.

“Should the value of the parcel exceed R400, customs charges will be levied on the total price actually paid for the item,” she said.

She confirmed records are kept of all parcels sent to and received from abroad.

Muller said parcels worth more than R400 and which are intended for more than one person would also incur customs charges, which would be paid by the recipient listed on the documentation.

Customs charges include duties levied depending on what the parcels contain and VAT (charged at an added tax value and not at a straight 14%).

Muller said she needed to get the specific details from Viljoen relating to the parcel she had received to investigate the issue and respond specifically to her concerns.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

MARIKA Muller explains that all parcels coming into the country have to have, by law, a customs declaration marked on them.

“This will detail the contents of the parcel (i.e. silk baby’s christening dress, pair of cotton baby socks, etc), as well as the value of the contents,” she said.

Muller said any parcels without declarations on them are checked, and those with declarations are monitored to ensure the content and value is not misrepresented.

“When you collect a parcel from the post office or customs at the airport, you must provide an identity document (such as an ID book, passport or driver’s licence),” she said.

Muller said that allows the post office to check, not just your identity, but on the customs and excise system for your previous parcels.

“What matters is not the sender but how many times the recipient has received a gift in the financial year,” she said.

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