Woman arrested at airport for not declaring items for GST payment

Photos posted on the Singapore Customs Facebook page showed handbags, several wallets and a belt. The 25-year-old Singaporean traveller had tried to exit through the Customs Green Channel at Changi Airport without declaring the branded items, which w
Photos posted on the Singapore Customs Facebook page showed handbags, several wallets and a belt. The 25-year-old Singaporean traveller had tried to exit through the Customs Green Channel at Changi Airport without declaring the branded items, which were worth more than $11,000, after arriving on a flight from Paris.PHOTOS: SINGAPORE CUSTOMS/FACEBOOK
Photos posted on the Singapore Customs Facebook page showed handbags, several wallets and a belt. The 25-year-old Singaporean traveller had tried to exit through the Customs Green Channel at Changi Airport without declaring the branded items, which w
Photos posted on the Singapore Customs Facebook page showed handbags, several wallets and a belt. The 25-year-old Singaporean traveller had tried to exit through the Customs Green Channel at Changi Airport without declaring the branded items, which were worth more than $11,000, after arriving on a flight from Paris.PHOTOS: SINGAPORE CUSTOMS/FACEBOOK

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 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 April 2016, a branded handbag and wallet seller was fined $190,000 for evading more than $50,000 in GST payment.

Yu Chung Tan, then 47, instructed his suppliers from Europe, Hong Kong and the United States to indicate the value of the goods imported as below $400, so that they would not be subjected to the tax.

The partner of online store LovethatBag imported 2,338 branded handbags by parcel post on 41 occasions. Between April 2012 and February 2014, Yu also travelled overseas on 14 occasions and bought 519 branded items to sell in Singapore. He did not declare them for GST payment when he arrived at Changi Airport.

In other similar instances 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2018, with the headline 'Woman arrested at airport for not declaring items for GST payment'. Print Edition | Subscribe