Customs restricted to reopen assessment of consignment

Customs restricted to reopen assessment of consignment

The Customs authorities have been restricted from reopening the assessment of consignment clearance based on incorrect information after a three-year period.

This crucial amendment has been introduced through the Tax Laws (Third Amendment) Ordinance, 2021, promulgated by a presidential order on September 15, 2021.

The specific amendment has been made to subsection 3 of section 80 of the Customs Act, 1969, modifying the powers of customs authorities to reassess consignments. Prior to this amendment, customs authorities had the authority to reopen cases of any past year during the scrutiny of goods declaration.

The amended subsection 3 of Section 80 now reads as follows:

“(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, if during the checking of goods declaration or within three years of its clearance under sub-section (1) of section 83, it is found that any statement in such declaration or document or any information so furnished is not correct in respect of any matter relating to the assessment, the goods shall, without prejudice to any other action which may be taken under this Act, be reassessed to duty, taxes and other charges levied thereon:

Provided that in case of reassessment, a notice shall be served to the importer through Customs Computerized System and opportunity of hearing shall be provided if he so desires.”

This amendment brings a clear timeframe within which customs authorities can reevaluate consignments based on incorrect information. The three-year limitation, calculated either during the checking of the goods declaration or within three years of its clearance, provides a defined period for customs assessments.

The provision ensures that once a consignment has been cleared and three years have elapsed, the customs authorities are restricted from reopening the assessment, except under specific circumstances. The notice served to the importer through the Customs Computerized System and the provision of an opportunity for a hearing, if desired by the importer, adds procedural fairness to the reassessment process.

The amendment is expected to streamline customs procedures, provide certainty to importers and exporters, and contribute to a more transparent and accountable customs framework. It strikes a balance between the need for customs authorities to address inaccuracies and the rights of importers to operate within a predictable regulatory environment.

As this amendment comes into effect, it represents a step toward enhancing the efficiency and fairness of customs operations in Pakistan. It aligns with the broader goal of creating a business-friendly environment, ensuring compliance with regulations, and fostering a conducive atmosphere for trade and commerce in the country.