Duty (economics)

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In economics, a duty is a kind of tax, often associated with customs, levied by a state. The term is often used to describe a tax on certain items purchased abroad.[1] Properly, a duty differs from a tax in being levied on specific commodities, financial transactions, estates, etc., and not on individuals. Duties may be import duties, excise duties, stamp duties, death or succession duties, etc.; but income tax levied on a person is not considered a duty.

Customs duty[edit]

A customs duty is an indirect tax levied on the import or export of goods in international trade. In economic sense, a duty is also a kind of consumption tax. A duty levied on goods being imported is referred to as an import duty. Similarly, a duty levied on exports is called an export duty. A tariff, which is actually a list of commodities along with the leviable rate (amount) of customs duty, is popularly referred to as a customs duty.

In the Kingdom of England, customs duties were typically part of the customary revenue of the king, and therefore did not need parliamentary consent to be levied, unlike excise duty, land tax, or other forms of taxes. This is no longer the case.

Calculation of customs duty[edit]

Customs duty is calculated on the determination of the assessable value in case of items for which the duty is levied ad valorem. This is often the transaction value unless a customs officers determines assessable value in accordance with the Harmonized System.

However, for certain items like petroleum and alcohol, customs duty is realized at a specific rate applied to the volume of the import or export consignments.

Harmonized System Code[edit]

For the purpose of assessment of customs duty, products are given an identification code that has come to be known as the Harmonized System code. This code was developed by the World Customs Organization based in Brussels. A Harmonized System code may be from four to ten digits. For example 17.03 is the HS code for molasses from the extraction or refining of sugar. However, within 17.03, the number 17.03.90 stands for "Molasses (Excluding Cane Molasses)".

Introduction of Harmonized System code in 1990s has largely replaced the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC), though SITC remains in use for statistical purposes. In drawing up the national tariff, the revenue departments often specifies the rate of customs duty with reference to the HS code of the product. In some countries and customs unions, 6-digit HS codes are locally extended to 8 digits or 10 digits for further tariff discrimination: for example the European Union uses its 8-digit CN (Combined Nomenclature) and 10-digit TARIC codes.

Customs authority[edit]

A Customs authority in each country is responsible for collecting taxes on the import into or export of goods out of the country. Normally the Customs authority, operating under national law, is authorized to examine cargo in order to ascertain actual description, specification volume or quantity, so that the assessable value and the rate of duty may be correctly determined and applied.

Evasion of customs duty[edit]

Evasion of customs duties takes place mainly in two ways. In one, the trader under-declares the value so that the assessable value is lower than actual. In a similar vein, a trader can evade customs duty by understatement of quantity or volume of the product of trade. Evasion of customs duty may take place with or without the collaboration of customs officials. Evasion of customs duty does not necessarily constitute smuggling.[citation needed]

Duty-free goods[edit]

Many countries allow a traveller to bring into the country good duty-free. These goods may be bought at ports and airports or sometimes within one country without attracting the usual government taxes and then brought into another country duty-free. Some countries impose allowances which limit the number or value of duty-free items that one person can bring into the country. These restrictions often apply to tobacco, wine, spirits, cosmetics, gifts and souvenirs. Often foreign diplomats and UN officials are entitled to duty-free goods. Duty-free goods are imported and stocked in what is called bonded warehouse.

Duty calculation for companies in real life[edit]

With many methods and regulations, businesses at times struggle to manage the duties. In addition to difficulties in calculations, there are challenges in analyzing duties; and to opt for duty free options like using a bonded warehouse.

Companies use ERP software to calculate duties automatically to, on one hand, avoid error-prone manual work on duty regulations and formulas and on the other hand, manage and analyze the historically paid duties. Moreover, ERP software offers an option for customs warehouse, introduced to save duty and VAT payments. In addition, the duty deferment and suspension is also taken into consideration.

Estate duty[edit]

An estate duty (or inheritance tax) is a tax levied on the estate of a deceased person in many jurisdictions or on the inheritance of a person. The tax is sometimes referred to, formally or informally, as a death duty.[2] Often, the rate of the duty is similar to a gift duty.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sullivan, Arthur; Steven M. Sheffrin (2003). Economics: Principles in action. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458: Pearson Prentice Hall. p. 450. ISBN 0-13-063085-3. 
  2. ^ UK National Archive, Looking for records of death duties 1796-1903(example of use of the term death duty)

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