Customs claims B4bn in luxury car duties

Department aims to stamp out tax evasion

An official walks around a showroom during an inspection of luxury cars that were impounded over alleged import tax evasion. PATIPAT JANTHONG

The Customs Department will claim 4.2 billion baht in import duties for 250 luxury cars from importers as part of its effort to crack down on tax evasion.

The 250 cars are among 300 luxury vehicles seized by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and examined by the Customs Department to determine if they were taxed correctly, said Chaiyut Kumkun, the department's spokesman.

After the investigation, the department will require the importers to pay import duties worth 4.2 billion baht, he said.

The DSI has been rounding up imported supercars in recent months to verify their documents and summoned a number of luxury car importers to acknowledge charges of falsely declaring import prices to avoid tax payments.

Supercar importer Panusak Techaterasiri, aka Boy Unity, filed a 50-million-baht lawsuit against the DSI in June, claiming the raids on his showrooms were unwarranted and dealt his company a heavy financial blow.

Regarding the buyers, the department will consider whether they knew the dealers had failed to pay the taxes correctly, he said.

If the buyers did not know the cars were improperly taxed, the department will consider them innocent, said Mr Chaiyut.

Tax evasion allegations have a 10-year statute of limitations, starting from the time the cars are imported to Thailand.

As the Customs Department does not have the supercars' imported prices, which are used for duty computation, it must seek information from several sources, including the websites of dealers abroad, to serve as reference prices in its so-called ministerial announcement number 317/2004, he said.

But the information in this announcement was leaked to luxury car importers, who then declared prices based on the reference prices, which have been far below market prices, to understate their tax bills.

To stem the loophole, the Customs Department decided to raise the reference prices for four luxury car brands -- Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Porsche -- said Mr Chaiyut, adding that some of the reference prices have been doubled.

He said the Customs Department will increase the reference prices for other brands later as it is still waiting for related information.

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