Singapore

Woman arrested for failing to declare branded goods for GST payment

A 25-year-old woman was arrested at Changi Airport last Friday after she failed to declare the branded items she had bought overseas for goods and services tax (GST) payment.

Singapore Customs, in a Facebook post on Tuesday night, said the woman - a Singaporean - had arrived on a flight from Paris.

Officers checked her luggage when she tried to exit through the Customs Green Channel without declaring the items, which were worth more than $11,000.

Photos posted on Facebook showed at least two handbags, several wallets and a belt.

Investigations are ongoing.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, a Singapore Customs spokesman said bona fide travellers generally do not need to pay GST on goods they buy overseas for their own use, but there is no GST relief for goods imported for commercial purposes.

GST is exempt for goods valued below $150 for travellers who are out of Singapore for less than 48 hours, and for goods valued up to $600 for those who are away for more than 48 hours.

In the post, Singapore Customs said travellers are responsible for making "an accurate and complete declaration of the taxable and dutiable items in their possession".

In October last year, businessman Foo Tee Suan, 54, was jailed for 24 weeks for making false entries in his GST returns.

These resulted in his evading a GST of $172,315.

He was also ordered to pay a penalty of $516,945, which was three times the amount of tax undercharged.

In other similar cases of GST evasion, two handbag retailers were fined in separate cases in 2015 for under-declaring the value of their imported goods in fake invoices submitted to Singapore Customs.

Adrian Tang Wai Chuen, 42, was fined $95,000, while Ong Siew Hong, 60, was fined $42,000.

Those found guilty of fraudulent evasion of GST may face a fine of up to 20 times the amount of tax evaded and/or a jail term of up to two years.

Those with information on evasion of customs duty or GST can contact Singapore Customs on 1800-233-0000 or e-mail customs-intelligence@customs.gov.sg. The public can also use the Customs@SG mobile app to report these activities.

COURT & CRIME