GST on your inheritance?
By Ryan Morrison & Hamish Marett-Crosby
The much debated, heavily criticised GST launches in May so we’ve taken a look at Grandfather Clocks.
It’s very nearly here – the Goods and Services Tax comes into force on Tuesday 6 May and 3% will be added to almost everything you buy or do.
But the tax is applied to more than just your weekly shop. You’ll also have to pay GST on any item you bring into the island worth more than £400 – unless you’re moving to the island, in which case GST doesn’t apply.
One area you might not have thought about though is items you inherit or goods you’ve been given by friends and family.
Let’s take a hypothetical situation.
Let’s say you have a Great Aunt with houses around the world who is also an avid collector of Grandfather Clocks.
This Great Aunt has decided to leave all of her clocks to you in her will - but they are scattered around the world and won’t arrive in Jersey until after 6 May.
My first instinct in this scenario is that you wouldn’t have to pay GST as you haven’t spent any money on the clocks – they were given to you – but I would be wrong.
So let’s carry on with our scenario. Each of the clocks your Great Aunt has left you had to be valued for shipping and insurance purposes and is each worth £1000.
One of the clocks is coming from your Great Aunt’s house in Iran; she brought the house before the war.
However, getting a large, wrapped and ticking object through customs from the Middle East isn’t exactly going to be easy – so you can just sell that one through an agent and have the £900 minus agents fee paid into your bank account.
It would have cost you over £200 to have it delivered to Jersey anyway.
But you still want to have some of the clocks in your house – after all you’ve already registered the domain name granddaddyclocks.je ahead of the launch of your Grandfather Clocks of the world museum.
Fortunately the next clock is coming in from her house in Kensington, London. If it was due to arrive on the 3 May 2008 the only cost would be delivery to your door.
However, as it won’t arrive until the Tuesday (GST Day) you will have to go to the Customs website and pay £30 before it can be released to you.
OK so you have to pay GST on the clock coming in from London but what about the clock due to arrive here from her little flat overlooking the Bois de Boulogne in Paris? Will that be treated the same?
A spokesman for Jersey Customs explained to us that: “There is no specific relief on GST being levied on inherited goods that are imported into Jersey, no matter from which destination.”
OK so you have to pay £30 for the clock coming from the UK, another £30 for the clock coming from Europe but are there any differences for other parts of Europe not in the E U? What about the clock coming in from Russia or even China?
Let’s go back to the Customs spokesman. He explained that “the origin, be it European, or outside the European Union is of no relevance as this is a local tax.
“Therefore your great aunts clock will be treated in the same way whether it is from St Petersburg, Boston Massachusetts, London, Paris or even Guernsey.”
So whatever the situation, in this instance, you will have to pay £30 pounds GST on every clock you want to bring to the island.
But is there hope on the horizon or is this a steadfast rule? Following a complaint from a member of the public about what he saw as a repulsive tax, Treasury Minister, Senator Terry Le Sueur said “I understand and sympathise with your predicament. I will discuss with the GST Tax Office whether there is any scope within the Law for us to assist you.”
If they can assist him they can assist anyone in that predicament, but will they? Watch this space!
last updated: 28/04/2008 at 14:25
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The main goods and services that will not attract GST are:
A full list of exemptions is available in the booklet GST and the Consumer (see link above).
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