The Australian Border Force (ABF) announced today that retrospective underpayments of Customs Duty have been increasing over the past 12-18 months. This is consistent with TTI’s compliance and risk reviews undertaken over a similar period.

It is important for importers to recognise the inherent risks involved of duty underpayments and should seek immediate reviews of their past four years of declaration lodgements to avoid the severe ‘corporate multiplier’ penalties involved for companies importing goods (i.e. in addition to the primary duty being underpaid).

The ABF has also stated:-

“In 2016-17, there has been a 20 per cent increase in the number of voluntary disclosures submitted to the ABF, with over $35 million in revenue being collected.

Due to the increased demand, the Voluntary Disclosures unit will be unable to respond to routine requests for status updates on voluntary disclosures already submitted unless there are exceptional circumstances.

A voluntary disclosure is a communication to the ABF—through a written error notice—of an error, omission or adjustment in a statement (excluding outturn or cargo reports) made to the ABF, such as an error in an import or export declaration.

A voluntary disclosure must disclose fully, truthfully and voluntarily, the details of the relevant import or export declarations and the nature of the errors. In making a voluntary disclosure, you are protected from offences in sections 243T and 243U of the Customs Act 1901 that relate to false or misleading statements.

Submitting a voluntary disclosure to the ABF will establish the relevant protections and the Voluntary Disclosures unit will contact you when processing is complete or if additional information is required.”

Without a comprehensive Customs Compliance review, it is difficult for companies to firstly identify any liabilities over the previous four year period and secondly, to make a Voluntary Disclose application to avoid the corporate penalty regime.

For assistance in relation to conducting these reviews, please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned for further information.


Russell Wilkinson

CEO – Trusted Trader International