EXTRA STATUTORY REPAYMENTS OF CUSTOMS DUTIES.
There is attached to the enactment of most protective duties a provision authorising the issue of a licence for duty-free importation. Such licences are not issued by the Revenue Commissioners except on the recommendation of the Department of Industry and Commerce, which makes all the necessary inquiries.
Cases occasionally arise in which duty is paid before the issue of a licence, e.g., where the carrying company, acting as customs agent for the importer, has a standing deposit from the importer and pays the duty out of the deposit without being aware of the fact that the importer had applied for a licence for free importation. Cases also arise where the importer was not aware of the fact that if he had applied for a licence he would have got it. Sums amounting to £2,004 7s. 5d. were repaid by the Revenue Commissioners during the year 1941/42 in cases of this kind, the Commissioners having received in each case a letter from the Department of Industry and Commerce recommending repayment and stating that a recommendation for the issue of a licence would have been made if the importer had made application in reasonable time before payment of the duty.
It must be borne in mind that Customs Duties are payable to the officers of the Revenue Commissioners at the Customs office nearest to the point at which goods are imported and that such an officer cannot permit importation without payment of the duty chargeable unless a licence for duty-free importation is produced to him. It would normally be impossible for these local officers to be aware that any particular consignment presented for importation at one station consisted of goods which were exactly of a kind for which a duty-free licence could be obtained, or has been obtained, and which were imported at another station, but even if two identical consignments are imported at one station, one of which is duty-paid and the other licensed, whilst the officer may draw the importer’s attention, he is not in a position to know whether the Department of Industry and Commerce will or would recommend the issue of a licence in respect of the duty-paid consignment. If such a case comes under notice at Headquarters, the attention of the Department of Industry and Commerce is drawn to it.
Where traders have been notified that over a certain period the Department of Industry and Commerce were prepared to recommend the issue of licences for a particular type or class of goods and any case comes under the notice of the Revenue Commissioners of an importation of such goods in respect of which duty has been paid, it is the practice of the Commissioners to inform the importer of the licensing position and of the steps necessary to obtain repayment. Furthermore, it is the practice of the Commissioners on receipt of a specific inquiry relating to customs duty to inform the person making the inquiry of any licensing provision applicable.