U.S. Customs. Why do I never pay customs?

Not that I am complaining, but I find it interesting that I do international orders quite frequently and usually the sellers note the nominal value of the LED display/resistor kit/capacitor kit/CPLDs/microcontrollers or whatever I am ordering on the cheap, but U.S. Customs has never billed or contacted me. What is U.S. Customs policy on this? Anyone knowledgeable on this subject? I've heard of people paying customs at ports of entry for things less expensive than what I have bought from Chinese dealers and I have also heard loud complaints from foreign members who are presented with customs bills all the time in their various countries of citizenship. It seems that it happens a lot even for engineering samples when no money changes hands at all. In my case, I've never had the slightest issue with purchased goods or samples (though in my case all come from U.S. companies, just sometimes from their factories overseas.) What gives? I emphasize again that I am not complaining. :grin:

maybe they are adding up the custom charges to surprise you one day? ;)

JoeN: (though in my case all come from U.S. companies, just sometimes from their factories overseas.)

If you are buying from a us company and you are based in the US you do not pay customs. The US company payed the customs and calculated those in into the price.

If you buy from a non us based company someone else (that is you) will need to take these things into account.

Another option: You are not located in the us ]:D

Best regards Jantje

You have answered your own question!

Not that I am in the US, but the situation is the same.

You are buying "cheap stuff",. Below a certain amount, it would cost more for them to attempt to collect duty on the items, than the duty collected. The amount is generally about $1000, but may be less. Certainly, collecting 10% duty on a $100 item is barely worth the paperwork (including opening the items and estimating value), especially as people are likely to dispute the value and it would just become bad "PR".

Paul__B: You have answered your own question!

Not that I am in the US, but the situation is the same.

You are buying "cheap stuff",. Below a certain amount, it would cost more for them to attempt to collect duty on the items, than the duty collected. The amount is generally about $1000, but may be less. Certainly, collecting 10% duty on a $100 item is barely worth the paperwork (including opening the items and estimating value), especially as people are likely to dispute the value and it would just become bad "PR".

rofl you are not living in Belgium ]:D We pay for collecting the custom guy to collect the money :~ On my custom invoices there is a line for customs and for duties. Duties is mostly more than customs.

Jantje:

Paul__B: You have answered your own question!

Not that I am in the US, but the situation is the same.

You are buying "cheap stuff",. Below a certain amount, it would cost more for them to attempt to collect duty on the items, than the duty collected. The amount is generally about $1000, but may be less. Certainly, collecting 10% duty on a $100 item is barely worth the paperwork (including opening the items and estimating value), especially as people are likely to dispute the value and it would just become bad "PR".

rofl you are not living in Belgium ]:D We pay for collecting the custom guy to collect the money :~ On my custom invoices there is a line for customs and for duties. Duties is mostly more than customs.

I hear you. I have heard many people here complaining about customs in their countries. That's why I am a little surprised I've never had an issue. Never once. I've probably ordered 50 items from overseas over the last 2 years I have been in the electronics scene here. The value has never been over $100. Most of the time, I bet it is under $20. I'm getting cheapo stuff - various parts. The only expensive things I have are instruments which I have always bought domestically from authorized dealers, except for a refurbished 2465B Tektronix scope which was from a domestic eBay dealer who specializes in repairing, refurbishing, and calibrating Tektronix scopes.

Jantje:
rofl you are not living in Belgium ]:smiley:

Clearly not. :smiley:

Now of course you have pretty much free health care and low unemployment as a result, which I believe is different to the USA. Perhaps there is a connection.

:zipper_mouth_face:

JoeN:
I hear you. I have heard many people here complaining about customs in their countries. That’s why I am a little surprised I’ve never had an issue. Never once. I’ve probably ordered 50 items from overseas over the last 2 years I have been in the electronics scene here. The value has never been over $100. Most of the time, I bet it is under $20. I’m getting cheapo stuff - various parts. The only expensive things I have are instruments which I have always bought domestically from authorized dealers, except for a refurbished 2465B Tektronix scope which was from a domestic eBay dealer who specializes in repairing, refurbishing, and calibrating Tektronix scopes.

FYI, regarding a US person importing and their obligations to US Customs.

Get over $200 and you will start to see them get interested in your paying duties…

Paul__B:

Jantje: rofl you are not living in Belgium ]:D

Clearly not. :D

Now of course you have pretty much free health care and low unemployment as a result, which I believe is different to the USA. Perhaps there is a connection.

:zipper_mouth_face:

I wouldn't dare to complain about Belgium Heath Care (indeed with capitals). It is accessible, fast, good and affordable. If you ever needed urgent medical care in Belgium you know. Getting out of the hospital with a bill of 400 euro's is considered expensive here. I know the USA has a different numbers.

Low unemployment??? As to the cia https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/be.html

the unemployment rate increased to 8.8%

And these figures have been "cleaned" (fake employment, to many government workers,...). This official Belgian graph is cleaned and higher http://www.werk.be/cijfers/trends-en-conjunctuur IMHO Belgium government nearly only taxes employees (I take home around 1/3 of what my employer pays for me) which makes employees expensive and as such increases unemployment. Which again decreases government income and increases government spending (due to increased welfare costs) Which makes Belgium government to increase taxes on employees .....

I'm not complaining but something will have to give way one day. I'm not qualified to predict whether this day is near or far away.

Best regards Jantje

BulldogLowell: FYI, regarding a US person importing and their obligations to US Customs.

Get over $200 and you will start to see them get interested in your paying duties...

That is super useful. Thanks. I think the following information applies to the items that I have been "importing":

Personal vs. Commercial Use: Many import regulations only apply to goods imported for commercial - business or resale - purposes. For instance, most goods imported for personal use are not subject to quota. The one exception to this is made-to-measure suits from Hong Kong, which are subject to quota restrictions regardless of the use they are imported for. On the other hand, import restrictions that are based on health, safety and protecting endangered species apply across the board. ... The duty rate for many items typically bought in an on-line auction is zero, however, CBP may charge a small processing fee for mail imports that do require the payment of duty.

This explains exactly what I have been experiencing. Obviously, the situation in Belgium differs.

Jantje:
(I take home around 1/3 of what my employer pays for me)

66.7% tax rate? Seriously? So, if you are paid, just an example, 50,000 euros per year you would take about 17,000 euros home and taxes would take 33,000 (rounded it to the thousands)? How can you afford rent or a home unless you are making 120,000 euros a year or more, which I would think would be quite rare.

tax rate is 50% for good earners (56.000+ euro a year) But the employer has to pay employers contribution which is about 50% of the bruto wage. So taxes are 50% but from employers cost to in my hand is around 66% for the good earners. That is why I stated "I take home around 1/3 of what my employer pays for me"

I have my own house so I'm not knowledgeable on the renting market. But I know people renting houses for 700 euro/month. So it is high but not the end of the world. I've visited "het ei" in Amsterdam and there they speak of renting prices of 3000 euro or more. That is way out of anything I see Belgium people pay.

Jantje: tax rate is 50% for good earners (56.000+ euro a year) But the employer has to pay employers contribution which is about 50% of the bruto wage. So taxes are 50% but from employers cost to in my hand is around 66% for the good earners. That is why I stated "I take home around 1/3 of what my employer pays for me"

I have my own house so I'm not knowledgeable on the renting market. But I know people renting houses for 700 euro/month. So it is high but not the end of the world. I've visited "het ei" in Amsterdam and there they speak of renting prices of 3000 euro or more. That is way out of anything I see Belgium people pay.

A house for 700 euro a month is about (give or take 10%) $1000 dollar a month which would be about right in the US except inside of large cities and mostly the rental market inside of cities is multi-unit anyway.

We have an employer contribution here too, but it is nothing like 50%, it is 6.2% plus maybe another 1% for unemployment insurance. Employers often pay maybe half of your health care premium too, though this is voluntary for the time being.

(I take home around 1/3 of what my employer pays for me)

not too different from (parts of) the US: (2013) Top federal tax bracket: 39% + SS: 12% + 3% Medicare + 12.3% State (Ca) tax = 66.3%

westfw:

(I take home around 1/3 of what my employer pays for me)

not too different from (parts of) the US: (2013) Top federal tax bracket: 39% + SS: 12% + 3% Medicare + 12.3% State (Ca) tax = 66.3%

Not exactly. Not all of your income is taxed at 39%, not all of your income is taxed at your state max rate either. It's graduated out, and there are exemptions. Turbotax will, for example, tell you your real "effective tax rate". Mine, in 2011, was 19.84% and that on $127,169 of adjusted gross income. How can I complain? I would be surprised if your effective tax rate is actually 66.3%. (This calculation by Turbotax does not include employer contribution. You are including employer contribution. Whether or not doing this is correct is a judgment call.).

Don't forget: sales, gasoline, and property. And, for those who indulge: cigarette, alcohol, and marijuana. In most jurisdictions, everything we own and everything we use is taxed at least twice (income then sales). The one saving grace for Texans is food. At least we aren't taxed for what we eat (from a grocery store that is not a "luxury item" and was not imported).

Something sickening to consider: If I grow food for my family I have to pay tax (land, seed, fertilizer, etc). If I grow food for others I do not pay tax. If I buy food from a grocery store I do not pay tax. In other words, the government severely punishes me for growing food for my family.

Agreed: "not exactly."

Mine, in 2011, was 19.84%

Does that include your part of SS and medicare? I found a federal "effective" rate calculator online that said 18% based on 200k income, but that was JUST federal income tax. I calculated that my tax rate went up a lot in 2013, since I'm retired and living on investment income. Not that I thought that dividend tax cut was a good idea in the first place, but it's still ... annoying.

JoeN: You are including employer contribution. Whether or not doing this is correct is a judgment call.).

I am adding employer contribution as well and I think that is how it should be done. Why? 1) Because from an employer point of view that is what you cost. 2) Because of a en employee point of view your netto is what you get. 3) The difference is going to the government. Does it matter whether it comes from your pocket or of your employer his pocket? I believe it doesn't matter; because what is in your pocket came from your employer his pocket in the first place.

westfw:

(I take home around 1/3 of what my employer pays for me)

not too different from (parts of) the US: (2013) Top federal tax bracket: 39% + SS: 12% + 3% Medicare + 12.3% State (Ca) tax = 66.3%

I'm not sure what the state tax is but after I took home 1/3 of my employers cost. I still need to pay community tax which is community dependent and is 8%. As far as I know it is 8% on the tax and not on the income.

If you think US can even compete with Belgium at the tax rate levels: Look at the figures below (which are without employers contribution) and think again :( From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_Freedom_Day United States 111 30.4% 21 April Belgium 165 44.9% 14 June

A bit further down Wikipedia states For the average Joe (that is someone working for a employer) Belgium 215 58.5% 3 August

form http://statbel.fgov.be/nl/statistieken/cijfers/arbeid_leven/lonen/maandloon/ In 211 average joe earned 3,192 a month that is (*13,5) 43092 a year average me (male, university degree working in Brussels) 5,218 a month, that is (*13.5) 70,443 a year

Anyone feels like claiming my 66% (including employers contribution) is exaggerated? ]:D

Best regards Jantje

Just pointing out that when people talk about US taxes, they're usually leaving out quite a bit of things that aren't "US income tax", like state taxes and SSN. (The US is divided into 50 states, which have a certain amount of autonomy and their own ability to collect income tax. This can range from 0% for some states (Texas) to over 10% for other states (California!) There can also be local taxes and property taxes. SSN (Social Security, which provides retirement and catastrophic injury safety net, sort of) is particularly regressive, since it applies to the first ~$100k of income (flatly.) So when an American conservative says something like "47% of Americans don't pay any income tax", they aren't including the ~15% of all income (SSN+medicare) that everyone pays on all wages (half of which is paid by the employer.) And it doesn't include state or local taxes. OTOH, the magnitude of VAT in Europe always amazes me... (The US would call it "sales tax", and add it at the register instead of to marked prices, but it seldom reaches 10%.)

He said he takes home around 1/3 of what his employer pays for him. He -didn’t- say that he pays 67% income tax. What do I mean?

When I first joined the workforce (USA), I was told that for every dollar my employer paid me (before taxes), they had to pay another $2 out. Things like unemployment insurance, insurance coverage to cover me while I’m on the job, the 1/2 of my Social Security they must cover, the cost of paying someone to do payroll amortized over all the employees. Stuff like that.

Maybe that is what he means.