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Customs Legislation Amendment Bill
Date Introduced: 30 June 1999
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Justice and Customs
Commencement: The amendments relating to
electronic lodgement (Schedule 1) and the customs duty deferral
facility (Schedule 2) commence on a day or days to fixed by
proclamation, or failing that, six months after the Bill receives
Royal Assent. The amendment relating to customs agents licenses
(Schedule 3) commences on 1 July 2000.
The Bill has three main purposes. They are:
- to enable applications for refunds of customs duty to be lodged
electronically (Schedule 1)
- to clarify the time when the payment of customs duty on
imported goods is due and provide a mechanism for the deferral of
payment where considered appropriate (Schedule 2)
- to increase the length of customs agents licenses from one to
three years (Schedule 3).
The proposed amendments relate to
non-controversial changes to customs procedures.
Electronic lodgement (Schedule
Electronic lodgement of information to the
Australian Customs Service (Customs Service) relating to imported
or exercisable goods was first introduced in 1991 under the customs
import entry computer (COMPILE) system. At that time it was decided
to defer the inclusion of refunding customs duty processes under
COMPILE 'until further examination and [the] necessary computer
enhancements had taken place'.(1) This has now occurred with the
development of the Electronic Lodgement of Refunds (ELOR)
According to the Customs Service, ELOR is
expected to reduce processing times and consequently the delay in
paying refunds as compared to the existing manual system for
lodgment.(2) Approximately two thousand three hundred customs
agents and importers currently have access to COMPILE. However,
those not linked to the COMPILE system will be able to continue
manually lodging information. ELOR will reduce the amount of
paperwork required by customs agents and brokers as they will not
have to produce full documentation for every refund claim as is the
current practice. It will also provide an on-line service showing
the status of refund applications.
ELOR's establishment cost has already been
funded through the industry-based Cargo Automation Development Fund
(CADF). Accordingly there should be no direct financial costs for
COMPILE users or the Customs service associated with the operation
A post-implementation review will be undertaken
twelve months after ELOR's introduction.
Customs duty deferral facility (Schedule
While the Customs Act 1901 (the
'Customs Act') does not specify when customs duty must be paid,
current practice is that payment is made before the goods in
question are released by the Customs Service for home (i.e.
Australian) consumption. The proposed amendments clarify the
situation by providing a set time for payment according to the
class of the goods. However, the amendments also create a head of
power to enable Customs regulations to prescribe the deferral of
payment. In introducing the Bill, The Hon Peter Slipper,
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and
Administration, stated that this aspect of the Bill would 'bring
the Customs Act into line with the government's GST legislation in
so far as the latter creates a link between the payment of customs
duty and GST on imports. The GST legislation makes GST on imports
payable at the same time, place and manner as customs duty is
payable. Where deferral of GST on imports is permitted...these
amendments to the Customs legislation will permit a similar
deferral of customs duty to be entertained'.(3)
Customs agents licenses (Schedule
A joint Customs Service and industry review of
arrangements for the licensing of Customs Agents was undertaken in
1997-98 to update and streamline the licensing system to allow it
to operate economically and efficiently on a cost recovery basis.
The review recommended that the duration of agents licenses be
extended from 1 to 3 years. The review was not published as a public
Electronic lodgement (Schedule
Item 5 of Schedule
1 inserts five new subsections into Section
163 of the Customs Act. They provide heads of power so
that regulations can be written to deal with the details of ELOR's
operation. A summary of these follows below.
New subsection 163(1AA) relates
to manner for making refund applications and the procedures for
dealing with them.
New subsection 163(1AB) relates
to the time at which electronic applications are taken to have been
lodged to the Customs Service. This is an important issue given
that applications are subject to time limits.
New subsection 163(1AC) allows
for contingency arrangements in relation to refunds etc when ELOR
is inoperable. Similar contingency arrangements are already in
place for COMPILE under Division 4A of Part IV of the Customs
New subsection 163(1AD) allows
for the detailing of circumstances where an application for a
refund and/or an application fee for a refund is not required.
New subsection 163(1AE) relates
to circumstances where applications for refunds have been created
electronically on COMPILE / ELOR but not 'communicated' (i.e.
forwarded) to the Customs Service within prescribed time limits.
The amendment makes it clear that the application must be actually
forwarded to the Customs Service within the relevant time limit for
the applicant to be entitled for a refund.
Customs duty deferral facility (Schedule
Item 4 of Schedule 2 inserts a
new Section 132AA specifying a set time for
payment of customs duty on imported goods. Under the proposed
amendment, the general rule will be that duty is to be paid at the
time of entry of the goods for home consumption (which is when the
Customs Service acknowledge the receipt of an import entry).
However, it also creates a head of power for regulations to
prescribe some other time, allowing for deferral where
licenses (Schedule 3)
Item 128 of Schedule
3 inserts a new Section 183CH(1A).
Current customs agents licenses are valid for a
maximum of 12 months and expire on 31 December every year.
The effect of the amendment is that any license
issued or renewed between July 31 and December 31 2000 will expire
on 31 December 2000 but licenses issued or renewed after the latter
date will not expire until 30 June 2003. Following that the next
expiry date will be 30 June 2006, and so on, giving a license
validity of up to three years.
- Customs Legislation Amendment Bill (No.2) 1999, Explanatory
- Australian Customs Notice No. 99/12, 12 February 1999.
- Second Reading Speech, Customs Legislation Amendment Bill
(No.2) 1999, Hon Peter Slipper MP, House of Representatives,
Debates, 30 June 1999 p.7863.
30 August 1999
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