Monday, May 18, 2009

No Time Limits for Customs Office. The Court Agrees.

Under general rule customs authorities can conduct post-clearance control - check and verify information applied during customs clearance, mainly customs value and tariff code. The issue of time limits for checking past customs declarations is unclear. Consequently customs authorities may assess import taxes over the unlimited period.

The Law sets that tax authorities may assess taxes within 3-year period after filing tax (customs) declaration. In previous years Ukrainian courts applied this provision mutatis mutandis to customs authorities as well. Nevertheless, the recent decision of Higher Administrative Court breaks the uniformity of such positive practice. The court decided in case К-6509/07 that above mentioned time limit is not applicable for customs authorities. Thus, they may assess taxes for the goods imported more than 3 years ago.

Inconsistence of courts practice regarding time limits gives an opportunity to appeal to the Supreme Court of Ukraine. Its decision is not obligatory for lower courts but in practice they follow the line set by the Supreme Court.

Nevertheless, legal persons shall store accounting and financial documents for 3 years. Consequently, it will be difficult for customs authorities to assess import taxes without proper original documents. Skillful court claim is likely to knock-off such tax assessment.

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