BARGAIN-hunters who buy online have been warned they could end up with a tax bill that will wipe out any savings they thought they had secured.
Most goods bought from outside the European Union (EU) will be liable to tax and duty if they are over a certain value, Revenue warned.
Officials from the tax authority said average charges of almost €29 were applied to more than 76,000 packages at postal depots around the country.
The warning comes as bargain hunters go online in their thousands in the hope of securing a Black Friday or a Cyber Monday deal ahead of Christmas.
Revenue said online shoppers may snap up what they see as bargains.
But shoppers have been warned to watch out for prices for popular goods that seem especially low.
“This may be because tax and duty has not been accounted for,” it said.
“However, once your goods arrive in the State, you are liable for the additional charges and non-payment can result in your goods being seized.”
Almost all goods arriving from countries outside the EU and European free trade area will be liable to tax and duty.
Goods priced at more than €22 are liable for Vat tax. This figure includes the cost of postage and other charges such as insurance and handling fees.
And goods that cost more than €150 will be liable for both customs duty and Vat.
Revenue said adding in Vat and customs duty on the price of a branded mobile phone bought from a US website could leave the recipient liable to a Revenue bill of €250.
This could wipe out any savings on the purchase.
And Revenue warned that when people buy alcohol and tobacco products online, they have to pay excise duties along with Vat irrespective of the value of the purchase.
This could mean that someone who buys a case of wine which is on sale for €60 could end up having the wine seized on arrival as tax and duty is unlikely to have been paid on the transaction.
Revenue said in a statement: “Excise duty and VAT on an average case of 12 bottles of wine, originating in another EU country, could add up to €60 to your purchase, bringing the price you actually pay to €120.”
Last year, Revenue seized counterfeit goods worth an estimated €7.8m.
Fake handbags, runners, and phones are widely sold online, are among the counterfeit goods most commonly seized by Revenue.
Some counterfeit goods may also pose a risk to health and safety.
The spokesperson added: “Revenue is advising online shoppers to be wary. Some deals really are just too good to be true and what looks like an attractive offer, can ultimately be an expensive, or even dangerous, mistake.”
Revenue operates a free phone number for those with queries on taxes due on online goods at 1800 295 295.
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