HM Revenue & Customs: the control and facilitation of imports: report

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The Stationery Office, 2008 - Business & Economics - 45 pages
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HM Revenue & Customs clears most imported goods quickly, and processes for submitting customs declarations and payments for non-EU imports are straightforward. The rate of physical checks at the UK border is below the EU average, however, and the number of audits of traders has dropped substantially since 2005-06. Ninety-nine per cent of declarations are processed electronically and 90 per cent of goods are cleared immediately. The Department checks documents for about 6 per cent of imports each year and aims to clear 95 per cent of these within two hours. However, a recent quality review by the Department found an 18 per cent error rate in these checks. The Department has only recently standardised the reporting of physical checks, and these reports suggest that between 2 and 3 per cent of imports get checked (The EU average is 9 per cent). The Department needs to improve its reporting, develop a standard for the minimum level of checking and undertake testing to understand compliance levels. Audits of traders fell by half for large businesses and two-fifths for small and medium businesses between 2005-06 and 2007-08. The additional revenue from this compliance work is reducing while the level of errors detected is rising, particularly among new traders. For small and medium sized businesses, the level of errors detected has increased from 32 to 39 per cent. The fragmented management of customs activities within the Department, a lack of clear accountability, and incomplete management information have hindered effective oversight of its performance and risk management.

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