Outboard boat ruling taxes Customs

PHUKET: After 10 days of cross-checking and confusion, Customs officials in Bangkok have now confirmed that there is no import tax on motorboats with outboard engines. Two boat owners wanting to import such boats contacted the Gazette after being informed that the 30% import tax still applied to these boats, although tax on leisure boats was dropped on February 18. One, Paul Nelson from Australia, forwarded a copy of an email he had received from the Customs Department Call Center in Bangkok, supposedly the source of all knowledge on customs matters. Mr Nelson contacted the Call Center to ask whether the outboard motors on his boat (not the boat itself) would be liable for import tax. The reply, from an officer signing herself Phakawalee W, was: “There is still duty tax for boat[s] with outboard motors. Rate of duty is 30%.” The Deputy Chief of Customs in Phuket, Teera Paesathitthavorn, initially agreed with K. Phakawalee, confirming that motorboats with outboards were still liable to import duty of 30%. K. Teera also urged anyone with questions “not to hesitate to ask Customs officers … to explain the regulations.” Further Gazette inquiries, however, revealed a deep divide in the Customs Department between those who believed that boats with outboards should be taxed at 30% and those who believed that there should be no duty on them. The new law on boat import duties divides vessels “for pleasure or sports” into four categories, all subject to zero duty. The categories are: 8903.10, Inflatables; 8903.91, Sailboats, with or without auxiliary motor; 8903.92, Motorboats, other than outboard motorboats; and 8903.99, Other. Many Customs officials, including K. Phakawalee at the Call Center, appear to have interpreted the wording of 8903.92 to mean that motorboats with outboards were specifically excluded from the benefits of the zero tax. The oracle on such matters is the Customs Tariff Division (CTD), which interprets the rules for other officers. Teeradej Sirisawaswatthana of the CTD explained to the Gazette that outboard motorboats, because they were excluded from category 8903.92, fall into the “other” category, 8903.99, and are therefore, like all leisure boats, exempt from import tax. He added that the CTD had distributed information on the zero tax to all relevant Customs offices, including the Call Center. “It’s a new law, and I have already told them about it. But I think maybe they have not updated their information yet,” he said. “Normally, we put new information on the Customs intranet and distribute documentation so that all related offices know about it. That’s all we can do.” He added, “I am not authorized to criticize how they work, but I have got them to understand it now.” Phatcharee Fakhum, Supervisor of the Call Center echoed K. Teeradej’s explanation of how information is disseminated. “In this case,” she said, “I need to check with the staff member who replied to this particular case. I have to apologize in advance if there was some confusion. “It may be because of confusion about the goods being imported – motor boat with outboard engine, or outboard engine by itself,” she said. All Customs officials interviewed stressed that while fully-equipped boats may be imported duty-free, there is still duty on components imported separately, including outboard motors. The CTD is on the 13th floor of the 120 Year Building, Thanon Sunthornkosa, Klong Toey, Bangkok 10110, Tel: 667-7299, 667-7195 or 667-7204, email : tariff@customs.go.th

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