In a decision of 26 June 2017, the Hamburg Finance Court clarified that the person who vacates a customs warehouse and thus withdraws the goods from customs supervision becomes the debtor of import duties. This shall also apply if the clearing party did not know that it was a customs warehouse. Companies that execute eviction orders should be aware of the liability risk.
Service provider and tenant as joint debtor
The decision was based on the case that a tenant had substantial rental debts for the premises of the customs warehouse. The landlady cancelled and commissioned a service provider to clear and compile an inventory list. This service provider did not know that the warehouse was a customs warehouse. When the competent customs office became aware of this, it imposed import duties. The service provider had removed the non-union goods from customs supervision by removing them from the customs warehouse. He was held jointly and severally liable with the tenant.
Estimation of import duties lawful
In the absence of stock records, the customs authority estimated the nature and quantity of the goods and their customs value using the final method. This was confirmed as legal by the tax court. In view of these risks, companies should check whether the premises serve as a customs warehouse before accepting an evacuation order.
Our customs lawyers can advise you on the tax risks involved in taking on eviction orders.