Import duty schedule shows why smuggling can be profitable

Most expats know that the import duty on books is negligible, just 1 percent of the stated value. But are they aware of the biggies?

The customs agency that is part of the Ministerio de Hacienda has said that a criminal network is involved in the importation of some personal-use items into the country. They call it fraud.

A quick check of the schedule of import duties shows that such actions can be highly profitable. Shampoo, for example, carries a 49.27 percent import duty. The duty on hair cream is  68.60 percent.

Clearly smugglers are well positioned to offer their goods at a less than fair market price to distributors and even retail.

Several of the private mail service companies have current duty scheduled on their Web pages, where this information is taken.

Customs officials also have cracked down in the past on the smuggling of electronic devices. In most cases the smuggling really amounts to falsifying paperwork. There is profit in doing this, too.

Although computers are assessed just 13 percent of value as import duty, the monitor is assessed at  49.27 percent, as is a home theater setup. And those flat screen televisions that are such a great price at major retailers also carry a 49.27 percent import duty.

There does not seem to be any consistency in the rates of import duty, although garden equipment ranks right down there with books at 1 percent. Other hand tools are assessed 19.78 percent.

For some reason kitchen appliances are charged high import duty. Mixers are assessed at 49.27 percent, as is a coffee maker.

But leading the list are refrigerators. Bringing one of those into the country will cost the importer  81.48 percent.

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