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|package from purchase abroad - tax free!|
Shopping online and wondering what to expect regarding taxes and fees? This guide will help you understand the basics that apply to residents of Israel when shopping online from overseas. Most of us shop this way to save money, so who wants a tax bill surprise when the order gets here? This post will help you avoid a tax bill (legally, of course!).
Note: the same regulations apply to packages sent from abroad, even if they are gifts!
Here's the rundown (the full regulations can be found on the Israel tax authority's site)
Your purchase or package, no matter what currency it was in, will be translated into US Dollars by the tax authority (using the exchange rate of the day they process it) to determine if it's taxable:
Purchases up to $75/Packages with a declared value up to $75 - no taxes
Purchases or packages with a declared value above $75, up to $500 - no customs taxes, but VAT will apply in most cases (17% currently), and Purchase Tax (variable rates) may apply (purchase tax applies to very few items at this point!)
Purchases or packages with a declared value over $500 - subject to all taxes (VAT , Purchase Tax (if applicable), and Customs Tax)
Please take note that purchases and packages (even gifts) of up to $75 in value will be subject to customs clearance fees if they arrive using an EMS service* (about 35 shekels), and if the value of the purchase is higher, the customs clearance fee can be higher as well. Other fees are often added on by shipping companies, as there is really not much oversight! I recently saw a bill that included the following fees: Handling fees, Import approval fee, VAT, Computer fee, Unloading fee, Storage fee. Watch out for these fees from shipping companies/courier services. I recommend you always try to get your packages via a service that guarantees your fees have all been prepaid.
Please be aware that the purchase price only (not purchase + shipping) will determine whether an item will be taxed. Once it is found to be taxable, however, applicable taxes will be calculated on the purchase price + the shipping price.
One more important point: If you order multiple orders addressed to the same person, with the same address & phone number listed, from the same seller and they arrive within 72 hours of each other, customs may combine the orders and treat them as one purchase for tax purposes. They may not. But it is a possibility you should be aware of before you place multiple orders. I recommend ordering at least 3 days apart, or ordering with different names and contact info (including the tax ID number you provide for clearing customs).
If your order is stuck in customs, or if you feel like you were charged tax by mistake, you will need to contact the customs office nearest you.
Here's the contact info for the various offices, taken from the meches website. I couldn't find any email addresses, sorry.
Derech HaHagana 137, Yad Eliyahu, Tel Aviv
Mercaz Shatner, Givat Shaul B, Jerusalem 91999
Sderot Pal Yam 19, Shakmona, POB 245, Haifa 31999
Central Post Office, The Red Mall, Eilat 83100
Some of these regulations are different from what some people seem to believe, so please refer back to this guide if you are about to place an order and you're not sure what to expect from the tax-man.
If you're not sure where to start shopping online, I've compiled a list of websites that offer low cost shipping to Israel! Please be sure to check it out! Let's help open Israel's marketplace and bring down our cost of living without bringing down our standard of living!
Some of my favorite websites to shop from are:
Amazon ~ iHerb ~ AliExpress ~ eBay ~ Book Depository
(Amazon is particularly good because they collect taxes up front and basically guarantee that you won't be charged anything more than what they've collected!)
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*Examples of EMS services - Express Mail, Fedex, UPS and other express delivery services. Sometimes DHL is EMS and sometimes it is not.