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Claiming GST Back

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Rakesh

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Aug 14, 2013
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Hi guys, so a little back of a bit story.

I am a student from overseas studying in Australia and I recently bought a laptop in Australia. When I went home two weeks ago, as I was leaving Adelaide I claimed the GST back on my laptop. The lady asked me who the laptop was for, I said it was for my sister (even though it was for me) and she warned me that if I tried to bring it back into Australia I would be flagged.

She scanned the receipt, and my passport and I assume wrote down my details. The receipt also contained the serial number for the laptop.

I will be bring the laptop back into Australia, I was wondering if it was likely that I would be flagged/searched and if I should take the precaution of declaring the laptop again?

Also, I am an Australian citizen and have been studying in Australia for over four years now but am never here for longer than two months before going overseas, if on my immigration form should I tick Australian returning from permanently or Australian returning temporally to minimise my chance of getting in trouble if I get caught?

Thanks,
Rakesh
 

markis10

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2004
Messages
30,091
You need to declare it as part of your duty free allowance. Ticking your status re residency options wont change that allowance, that info is generally for the statistics people, iirc permanently is defined as the next 12 months or longer.
 

MEL_Traveller

AFF Supporter
Joined
Apr 27, 2005
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Hi guys, so a little back of a bit story.

I am a student from overseas studying in Australia and I recently bought a laptop in Australia. When I went home two weeks ago, as I was leaving Adelaide I claimed the GST back on my laptop. The lady asked me who the laptop was for, I said it was for my sister (even though it was for me) and she warned me that if I tried to bring it back into Australia I would be flagged.

She scanned the receipt, and my passport and I assume wrote down my details. The receipt also contained the serial number for the laptop.

I will be bring the laptop back into Australia, I was wondering if it was likely that I would be flagged/searched and if I should take the precaution of declaring the laptop again?

Also, I am an Australian citizen and have been studying in Australia for over four years now but am never here for longer than two months before going overseas, if on my immigration form should I tick Australian returning from permanently or Australian returning temporally to minimise my chance of getting in trouble if I get caught?

Thanks,
Rakesh
you have a duty free allowance of $900 or something. computers depreciate very quickly, so unless the laptop was many thousands of dollars, the 'value' is probably close or under the $900?
 

bass_ke

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Do you really want the risk of being known to customs for evading revenue for the sake of a couple of hundred dollars?

Just do the right thing
 

MEL_Traveller

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Do you really want the risk of being known to customs for evading revenue for the sake of a couple of hundred dollars?

Just do the right thing
it only needs to be declared if it is worth over $900. If it has depreciated beyond that it would not be the right thing to declare it? Unless there is a provision requiring formerly exported goods to be declared? (i can't remember the wording)
 

bass_ke

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it only needs to be declared if it is worth over $900. If it has depreciated beyond that it would not be the right thing to declare it? Unless there is a provision requiring formerly exported goods to be declared? (i can't remember the wording)
This is indeed correct, but goods only depreciate 20% in the first 3 months for customs purposes
 

medhead

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I looked up the question the other day. It actually refers to the purchase price of the item, not the value.

I'd suggest not returning with the computer on the next visit to Australia. Yes, that is probably impossible for a student.
 

Sprucegoose

AFF Supporter
Joined
Aug 20, 2003
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You obtained an advantage, no tax on a good we are normally required to pay tax on. I would be conscience of that and declare it. It's not worth the long term downside if you get on their 'list'.

I have always observed the custom laws and sleep well
 

JessicaTam

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I bought my lap top last year and took it out of the country for two nights. All up I think it cost about $1600. I claimed the GST back to worries with TRS and then declared it on the way back in. Customs looked at the receipt, had a chat, went away for a bit and then waved me through no dramas. I suspect that my details were recorded incase there was a pattern of me doing quick turnarounds with high value goods, so I would be wary of doing it again in a hurry.

Rekesh, you should be fine, just declare it.
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2014
Messages
2
two possibilities

1) don't declare it and possibly end up detected
2) declare it and possibly have to repay the tax

if 1) happens then your on the sh!t list and your life will be hell everytime you pass through border control.... so is it really worth that tax refund? I mean we are likely talking significantly less than $200 right?

If your on the "list" you can be in a room packed with inwards visitors, so many that the C&I team are working like madmen, and you can guarantee that you'll still get the same personal treatment that mrDrugDealer might come to expect on entry........IMHO to not declare would be one of those classic choices that most of us remember into our old age as something that we would never do again....

Andy
 

Alanslegal

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2007
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You obtained an advantage, no tax on a good we are normally required to pay tax on. I would be conscience of that and declare it. It's not worth the long term downside if you get on their 'list'.

I have always observed the custom laws and sleep well
I bring back many items that I have had my GST refunded, I know my duty concession limits and will declare if and when I am over such limit. Once I get a replacement ultrabook because my current ultrabook's screen cracked following my inquisitive kitten pulling on the cable, I will then book a quick weekend to AKL and get my GST back thank you very much :) ;)
 

ermen

AFF Supporter
Joined
Oct 9, 2010
Messages
1,205
They have ways of detecting GST refunds for high value items...

Can't remember where I read this but there was a case where some lady obtained a GST refund on some diamond earring on the way out of Australia and customs tried to look for it on the way back in. Couldn't find it until they looked at the most obvious place - her ears...
 

Cynicor

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Jun 13, 2007
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They have ways of detecting GST refunds for high value items...

Can't remember where I read this but there was a case where some lady obtained a GST refund on some diamond earring on the way out of Australia and customs tried to look for it on the way back in. Couldn't find it until they looked at the most obvious place - her ears...
It should be relatively easy to test this theory, as there is only one computer between arrival and freedom, and you get to see the results from it: the smart gate.

Unless they are setup to give a different code for people who have claimed a large amount back (probably not that technically difficult), they won't be able to detect it easily.

All we need is a few people going through on the same day, one of whom has put in a large TRS claim, and compare their smart gate receipts...
 

markis10

Veteran Member
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All we need is a few people going through on the same day, one of whom has put in a large TRS claim, and compare their smart gate receipts...
Smartgate and humans will automatically issue the same codes on arrival, and given the system flags far more than GST refunds (thanks to your passport being scanned in the process of the claim) it would be hard to work out why your being pulled aside, the questions being asked are not always the ones they seek answers to.
 

MEL_Traveller

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Smartgate and humans will automatically issue the same codes on arrival, and given the system flags far more than GST refunds (thanks to your passport being scanned in the process of the claim) it would be hard to work out why your being pulled aside, the questions being asked are not always the ones they seek answers to.
i'm wondering about this.

smart gates don't have the ability to give a subjective judgement in the same way immigration officers can. if an immigration officer doesn't like the look of you they can code your card for a more formal search.

i don't see how smart gates can do the same, therefore there would be one less contact point for any formal search decision.
 

Cynicor

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i'm wondering about this.

smart gates don't have the ability to give a subjective judgement in the same way immigration officers can. if an immigration officer doesn't like the look of you they can code your card for a more formal search.

i don't see how smart gates can do the same, therefore there would be one less contact point for any formal search decision.
I agree, and we aren't talking about rocket science here, nor a 100% guarantee. It would be more along the lines of seeing how many times the person who claimed a large item back got a different code to a colleague/acquaintance/friend who went on a similar trip and returned the same day.

While you of course couldn't tell why you were pulled over for a search, I am guessing most of us are never searched (I have not been since declaring something food item in 2002), and the change might be slightly more obvious than for an infrequent traveller.

Anyway, it's mostly a hypothetical, but I agree more with Mel traveller.
 

markis10

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i'm wondering about this.

smart gates don't have the ability to give a subjective judgement in the same way immigration officers can. if an immigration officer doesn't like the look of you they can code your card for a more formal search.

i don't see how smart gates can do the same, therefore there would be one less contact point for any formal search decision.
My answer was to do with pre-flagged info such as GST claims that goes to make up the code printed out, obviously a human can change that either at the desk or in the baggage area if something more pops up. Both the desk and smartgate alert baggage area rovers if your profile needs a further look or they have intel that you may be up to no good.
 

serfty

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Nov 16, 2004
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From anecdotes I have come across, when there is such a flag, the gate simply won't open and the PAX will be directed to the SmartGate assistance Lane.
 

whatmeworry

Established Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2007
Messages
4,422
I know personally a couple of Custom officers in real life at MEL and it can come in handy if you can mention it in passing conversation.
 
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