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A 37-year-old Singaporean, Teo Hwee Ling, was fined S$5,500 on October 6, 2022 for fraudulent Goods and Services Tax (GST) evasion.

I came back from Germany

Teo arrived at Changi Airport on a flight from Frankfurt on May 1, 2022.

She was stopped by Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers to check items in a paper bag she was carrying before leaving the arrival hall.

She was then directed to the Singapore Customs office where she declared two branded bags for tax payment.

Claimed she didn’t know the value of the bags

Asked by a customs officer in Singapore to produce the invoices for the two bags, Teo said they were gifts from her friend residing in Germany.

She claimed she had no knowledge of their value.

Claimed bags worth €1,000

Since there was no documentation to establish the value of the bags, Teo provided a verbal declaration of €1,000 (S$1,470) and made a GST payment of S$68.20 for the bags after deduction of GST import relief for travellers.

Travelers enjoy import GST relief on new goods purchased overseas and imported into Singapore for personal use.

The amount of relief is based on the length of time the traveler has spent outside of Singapore.

S$500 relief for purchases is provided for durations longer than 48 hours.

Discrepancies found

In May 2022, Singapore Customs was informed that there were discrepancies between the statement Teo made earlier and the actual purchases she had made overseas.

Teo was asked to report to Singapore Customs for further investigation.

Investigations revealed that Teo had deleted the value of the two bags she declared as gifts.

Teo’s purchases were valued at around S$5,060.

In addition to this, Teo had also failed to declare five other items, worth approximately S$9,240, when he returned to Singapore that day.

These items belonged to him and were taken out of the arrival hall in undeclared baggage.

The unpaid GST on the two under-declared bags was approximately S$250 and the GST payable on the five undeclared items was approximately S$640.

Teo pleaded guilty to fraudulent GST evasion of approximately S$890.

A charge of providing false information was considered at sentencing.

All arriving travelers must make an accurate and complete declaration of dutiable and taxable items in their possession for payment of duty and GST.

Anyone found guilty of fraudulent GST evasion will be subject to a fine of up to 20 times the amount of tax evaded and/or imprisonment for up to two years.

Refusing to answer questions or knowingly giving false information or providing false documents are serious offences.

Violators can be fined up to S$5,000 and/or jailed for up to 12 months.

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