Customs duty tax on household items

Tell Claudienne

with Claudienne Edwards

Sunday, April 14, 2019

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Dear Claudienne,

I am a senior citizen and a returned resident, residing in Mandeville. I made a visit to the US and returned on an American Airlines A Flight into Montego Bay on December 27, 2018.

In my luggage were two small bathroom faucets (mixers) that were a gift from my son-in-law. The total cost of both was US$324.36, and the customs officer taxed me $10,100 for them. I also had a small vacuum that was not taxable.

When I enquired about the reason for the tax on the faucets she stated that they were not considered to be household items.

However, in my view a faucet is a household item similar to the vacuum.

I did not have all of the money to pay the tax for the faucets so they detained them and told me that I had to return within 14 days to pay it.

I appealed to the supervisor and the manager to withdraw the tax, without any positive outcome.

When I went to the Jamaica Customs Agency website it was not clear what items are classified as household items and are not taxable.

Furthermore, the cost of the two faucets and the vacuum were still below the threshold of the US$500 tax-free imports that Jamaicans returning to the island are allowed.

It was also burdensome for me to pay additional costs for transportation to take me back to Montego Bay to pay the tax and collect the items.

Could the column kindly take a look at this matter and see if you can get customs to upgrade their website? How can a faucet not be a household item, as is a vacuum? Who writes these policies? I could imagine if I had had 12 of them, that would have suggested that I was going to sell them.

— EE

Dear EE,

The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) customer service manager has advised Tell Claudienne as follows: “Each passenger is entitled to US$500 allowance on personal and household effects. Upon examination, if the passenger, based on what they are presenting, surpasses their allowance, then the relevant duties will apply.

Not all items deemed for personal or home use are given as apart of the passenger allowance, in this case, the faucet.”

You argued that on the JCA website the categorised list of household items is not clear.

However, the JCA customer service manager directed Tell Claudienne to the home page on the JCA website. Under the subheading “Entitlements” (returning resident entitlements) please view an estimated 125 household items that are not dutiable.

Faucets are not on this list and the JCA spokesman said that the customs officers are guided by the list of household items on the website when they exempt duty.

She said that the Ministry of Finance determines the list of household items on which duty is not to be paid.

We wish you all the best.

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