A disclosure when there is nothing to disclose?

A disclosure when there is nothing to disclose?

Leonie Ferretter takes a closer look at a recent change to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection's imported goods voluntary disclosure process.

Director, Tax

KPMG Australia


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Under Australian customs law, it is a legal requirement to disclose post importation adjustments to the price of imported goods to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). This disclosure is required whether there is an upward or downward adjustment and whether or not there is a change in the customs duty liability.

The DIBP recently implemented and published procedural changes in relation to the voluntary disclosure process. The changes include the following requirement in relation to transfer pricing adjustments “Written advice of the transfer pricing is still required to be submitted even where there are no adjustments to report for a reporting period.”

This is a curious requirement given sections 243T and 243U of the Customs Act 1901 allow only for voluntary disclosure of errors. The question therefore is what legal provisions require importers to disclose that there has not been an “error”. Does the requirement extend to those importers that do not deal with related parties? Why, in a self-assessment system, should an importer disclose that they have nothing to disclose?

Other procedural changes include the requirement to complete check lists of supporting information provided and provide “details of any previous voluntary disclosures to the ABF within the last five years.” Once again, this requirement appears to be outside of the provisions of the voluntary disclosure legislation and rather than expedite the disclosure process, will in fact lead to lengthy delays in importers being able to disclose in a timely fashion.

Watch this space – we have sought clarification from the DIBP on the above statements.

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