IbookG4 - buying in a local US Store - German taxes?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by couchcommander, Jan 20, 2004.

  1. couchcommander macrumors newbie

    Jan 20, 2004
    I am planning to switch from my pc to a 12"inch ibook.

    My problem is that pricing in Germany is ridiculously high compared to the US Store prices..

    I'd probably get a:
    12" ibook
    +60GB HDD,

    buying in Germany would cost me about 1.452 euro, which translates into approx. US$ 1.817 (!)
    prices in the US would be about $ 1.070, all State taxes excluded..

    Now my plan is to have a good friend of mine whos frequently travelling between the US and Germany buy the ibook in a local Apple Store (NY soho store), dump the packaging and maybe even mail the software and manuals, and then try to get through customs WITHOUT having to pay the evenly high German 16% taxes...

    questions left:
    1. There is a 1099 price tag on the ibook, no matter which retail store in the US you choose. I assume the individual state tax is not listed on the apple site, nor is it included in the $1099 price ?
    2. If my friend declares the Ibook as a gift, will he have to pay the German Custom taxes (16%) and get the NY state tax refunded ?
    3. If he dumps the packaging and 'uses' the ibook, maybe add a new wallpaper, apply some stickers and all... will he be able to pass customs without having to pay the 16% tax? What if the customs find the (almost new) manuals and stuff, or the 15hr "old' receipt? Do they at all take a second look into things like that?

    I need a US system and QWERTY layout keyboard, and this seems to be the only possibility to get both PLUS a reasonable price.
    I am very much willing to pay any legal fees required, however if there is a (legit) way to avoid costs (about $500-600 that is:D ) I would be more than happy about it, I could even invest the saved $$ into a new ipod+RAM etc...

    Any ideas, suggestions, experience?

    P.S. I am sooo looking forward to this thing, no more windows no more try+error and no more having to remove your LAN card in order to make your Audio work...yay:)
    Thanks in Advance and please excuse my spelling
    Yours Sincerely
  2. caveman_uk Guest


    Feb 17, 2003
    Hitchin, Herts, UK
    1. Correct - US prices do not include taxes. They vary from state to state.

    2. My understanding is that if he declares it then VAT is payable even if it is a gift. I'm not sure you can claim back the 8.25% NY sales tax either...

    3. The only way to avoid paying German VAT would be to smuggle it (i.e break the law and not declare it) If you dispose of the boxes etc and configure it as a german machine not a US one then it should convince customs you bought it in the EU. Post the manuals and the receipt. And perhaps take a European plug. You'll need one anyway...

    I've been looking into this myself but sadly I don't any friends that regularly cross the Atlantic and the costs of flight /accomodation don't make it worth it just to get a new PB.
  3. hvfsl macrumors 68000


    Jul 9, 2001
    London, UK
    You should be able to claim the US tax back, but you do legally have to pay the German Tax.

    Having said that, I went to San Fransisco three years ago and got a Camcorder and new Graphics card, costing about $800 together. I told UK customs about it, but as I was a Uni student at the time, they said they will let me off because of my honesty. :)

    I did not bother claiming the US tax back because it was only someone like 3%.

    It is easy to smuggle the stuff in, put you could be in for a big fine if you try it.
  4. jxyama macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003
    a few tips on... smuggling :D

    the key is that the computer has to be imported to be taxed...

    to do that, it must be shown that you didn't have the computer before you left germany


    that the computer was purchased in the U.S.

    ...if you were to use the computer a bit after the purchase, make it look like you've owned it a while and of course, if you are on a business trip to the states, why would you have a receipt for a computer you've been "using for a while"? get my hint..?

    "lose" the receipt, make the computer look like used and the officials would have to go quite a way to prove that your computer was being imported... mind you, it's still your ultimate responsibility to be honest and declare your computer. i'm just telling you how you may not get caught even if you didn't. no guarantees, my friend, though...
  5. couchcommander thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 20, 2004
    are you absolutely positive that there is only the illegal-smuggling-against the law way?:-D

    From what I have heard, you should be able to fly there, do your appointments/spend your vacation whatever, buy the thing, load some of YOUR personal data on it - by doing this you are "using" it don't you?
    You put it in your boarding bag and you have nothing to declare now have you:
    Its not a gift, you bought it for your personal/working use while being in the US, you paid the local state taxes, and so what, taking a thing you use and own back home with you means "Importing" it?
    (Plus I don't think the customs is interested in what the person they just met s gonna do with the notebook he carried with him except if he intends to adjust the rear flaps of the 747 hes supposed to fly home with.)
    I have absolutely no background on Tax and Customs law, so sorry if all this may sound a bit naive..:)

    Thank you for your help!
  6. couchcommander thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 20, 2004
    If, say.. I'd walk into the NY apple store, buy the ibook for $1323 + state and city taxes...and then went straight to the customs officer and tell him what I just bought:D , I would be charged the German 16% VAT and I'd get the NY taxes refunded.
    I dont think there would be any other fees, since there is no customs tax (right word?) on notebooks.

    Another idea would be to have a friend (resident of the US) buy it in the US, (Are there any US States with extremly low to none State taxes?), apply some wear and tear, and have it sent to you as a used item. No taxes charged, right? shipping wld be at about $60 if i remeber things right... and the package insurance would cover $1000 ?

    Anyway, just thinking aloud... to get the whole $700 "$<euro rebate" you'd obviously have to get dirty in someway. I'd probably fell very uncomfortable having someone send it to me undeclared, (in other word smuggle it) because Iam just not the cheating type of person.. On the other hand, who s gonna ask where the $700 price difference comes from....hum
  7. caveman_uk Guest


    Feb 17, 2003
    Hitchin, Herts, UK
    My understanding is that Alaska, Oregon, New Hampshire and Delaware don't have sales tax but I'd be more than happy for anyone to correct me;)
  8. jxyama macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003
    i'll give you a personal example... i lived in france to do research for a few years, though i was part of an american univ. program.

    i had a palm pilot, worth about $300, bought in the u.s. when i was commuting between switz. and france, i was stopped by a border guard in france and the guard asked me where i bought the palm, how much it was worth, etc. (i didn't think about it, so i answered.) they made me pay the fine and tax on that thing because i didn't declare it when i moved to france from the u.s.

    so it doesn't matter how used it is, how old it is, etc. if you purchase something overseas and bring it in to a country of your residence, you are supposed to declare and pay duty on it.

    the only reason the machine being "used" usually works in this situation is that you can just (honestly) say, "oh, that was purchased a long time ago and i can't remember how much i paid for it." and usually, the custom people will let you go.

    even a gift is not a given. my roommate in france received a notice from the customs that he will need to pay duty on a nice sweater his dad had sent him before it can be delivered to him.

    it's not all that difficult to get around all this, but if any kind of illegality bothers you (morally or risk wise), then it's not for you because there's no way to get around declaring and paying import duties (which could be different from local VAT, btw) if your purchase is above and beyond those allowed. (the whole 2 cartons of cigarettes, 2 liters of alcohol, $500 max. limit, etc. that you see when you land at the airport as the limit. this is why duty free shopping is ok, because the quantity you can purchase is under that limit.)

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