SINGAPORE – A Singaporean woman was fined $5,500 on Thursday (October 6) for under-declaring and evading Goods and Services Tax (GST) on her luxury bags and shoes, including those from Louis Vuitton and Chanel.
Teo Hwee Ling, 37, pleaded guilty in state court to fraudulent GST evasion of approximately $890 on seven luxury goods. Another charge of providing false information was considered in his sentencing.
On May 1, Teo arrived at Changi Airport on a flight from Frankfurt and was stopped by officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) for checking items in a paper bag she was carrying, Singapore Customs said in a news release on Thursday (October 6).
She was then directed to the Singapore Customs office where she declared two branded bags, a Louis Vuitton backpack and a Loewe bag, for tax payment, according to a CNA report.
Asked by a customs officer in Singapore to produce invoices for the two bags, Teo said they were gifts from her friend residing in Germany and she did not know the value.
Since there was no documentation to establish their value, Teo provided a verbal declaration of €1,000 ($1,470) and made a GST payment of $68.20 for the bags after deducting the relief from Import GST for travellers. She was granted $500 relief because she had spent more than 48 hours outside of Singapore.
Later that same month, Singapore Customs were informed that there were discrepancies in the declaration made by Teo and its overseas purchases. She was asked to report to Singapore Customs for further investigation.
The agency said investigations revealed that Teo deleted the value of the two bags she declared as gifts when they were her purchases worth about $5,060.
“Furthermore, Teo had also failed to declare five other items, worth approximately $9,240, when he returned to Singapore on May 1,” Singapore Customs added. In total, the seven items were valued at over $14,000.
The five items are a pair of Ferragamo shoes, perfumes and cosmetics, as well as a Longchamp bag, a Chanel bag and a Louis Vuitton shoulder bag, according to court documents seen by CNA. These belonged to him and were taken out of the airport’s arrival hall in undeclared baggage, Singapore Customs said.
The unpaid GST on the two under-declared bags was approximately $250 and the GST payable on the five undeclared items was approximately $640, he added.
“It is the responsibility of all arriving travelers to make an accurate and complete declaration of dutiable and taxable items in their possession for payment of duty and GST,” Singapore Customs said.
Under the Customs Act, anyone convicted of fraudulent evasion of GST may be subject to a fine of up to 20 times the amount of tax evaded or imprisonment for up to two years, or both.
Those who refuse to answer questions or knowingly give false information or provide false documents may be subject to a fine of up to $5,000 or imprisonment for up to 12 months, or both.
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