Tax Alert, December 2019
Amendment of customs declaration upon release of goods
Ruling no: 148-I-030-01-537/2019 as of 21st November, 2019
Conclusion from the Ruling: At the request of the declarant, within three years as of the date of acceptance of the declaration, an amendment to the declaration may be approved after the goods have been released in order for the declarant to fulfill his obligations with regard to the placing of goods under a particular customs procedure. Also, the existence of potential liability for misdemeanor penalties shall not be immediately assumed (especially if the amendment of the declaration results in the change of the amount of customs debt) when the declaration is amended. That is, liability for misdemeanor penalties should, if there are certain indications, be proved in each specific case.
Said ruling is especially important for importers who have multiple purchases of goods from abroad during a year, most often from related parties, which at the same time, through issuance of credit or debit notes covering a certain period of time (e.g. 6 or 12 months) make adjustments of the previously invoiced prices. In such cases, the question of subsequent amendment of previously submitted and accepted customs declarations arises.
In view of the above, we are of the opinion that it is still questionable in which cases may the declarant, at his own initiative, amend the declaration after the goods have been released, as well as how this possibility coincides with cases in which the so-called "incomplete customs declaration" was submitted. In other words, we are of the view that there is still ambiguity in relation to the list of situations, which in practice may fall under the formulation "for the declarant to fulfill his obligations with regard to the placing of goods under a particular customs procedure."
On the other hand, we would like to note that the fact that assertion of potential liability for misdemeanor penalties shall not be immediately assumed, but needs to be proved by the Customs Authorities, should be seen as a step in positive direction. Namely, in accordance with the Customs Law, voluntary disclosure of the customs declaration does not eliminate the possibility of initiating misdemeanor proceedings by the Customs Authorities.
However, we are of the view that the fact that in such cases the Customs Authorities should have the burden of proof in ascertaining if the declarant had an intention to influence the amount of the customs debt, e.g. by stating incorrect or incomplete information in the declaration, is of significant importance for importers and in their favor.
For any questions regarding the application of rulings in the field of customs duties, you can contact Nebojsa Jovanovic, LL.M., Manager in Tax Department (Indirect Tax) via e-mail address: email@example.com.