Queensland, Victoria solar businesses burnt $1.3 million for duty evasion

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A Queensland solar wholesale business has been ordered to pay more than $1 million following an investigation by the Australian Border Force (ABF) into the importation of Chinese aluminium rails used to mount solar panels. The ABF investigation focused on a number of consignments imported into Brisbane over a four year period.

The investigation found aluminium rails had been falsely declared as other aluminium products to avoid the payment of Countervailing Duty, Dumping Duty and Customs Duty. These duties are imposed to combat dumping, which occurs when overseas goods are sold at a price below their normal value, undercutting Australian providers. 

The Queensland wholesaler was ordered to pay a total of $1,098,336, including a shortfall of $186,618 in Customs Duty, $247,823 in Dumping Duty, $564,507 in Countervailing Duty and a further $99,387 in Goods and Services Tax (GTS), the ABF said.

In a separate case, a national solar energy company based in Victoria has been ordered to pay more than $280,000 for also trying to evade Dumping and Countervailing Duty.

The investigation focussed on the misclassification of solar mounting kits imported into Australia from China between 2015 and 2018. ABF Acting Commander Susan Drennan said the ABF was targeting businesses that deliberately and deceptively tried to avoid trade remedy measures.

“Our Customs Compliance Operations officers work diligently to ensure importers comply with reporting and revenue collection requirements so there’s a level playing field for both industry and consumers,” she said.“Importers who don’t pay the correct amount of duty and GST are depriving the Australian economy and ultimately Australian taxpayers.”

Earlier this year, the ABF issued duty demands of more than $15 million to combat duty evasion on aluminium from China as part of its ongoing two year investigation into the dumping of aluminium extrusions, mostly used to mount solar panels. Previously, ABF officers had executed warrants on four solar entities across Sydney and Brisbane, and issued the duty demands in response to that.