Revenue has warned shoppers to check whether the advertised price of online goods includes all tax and duty costs due before deciding to buy.
It said where the price of the goods advertised seems attractively low, this may be because tax and duty costs are not reflected in the price advertised.
Additional charges, including VAT and Customs Duty, can apply once the goods arrive in Ireland, Revenue warned today as consumers start gearing up for the Christmas buying spree.
Maureen Dalton, Head of Revenue's South East Frontier Management Branch, said that almost all goods bought online arriving from non-EU countries will be liable to tax and duty.
She said that people need to check whether the advertised price includes any tax and duty costs.
"Knowing the real cost of a product from the outset will better inform your decision to buy the goods and will ensure there are no surprise additional tax and duty costs when the goods actually arrive in Ireland," she explained.
She said that a duty paid model is in operation for some suppliers, whereby the total advertised price for the goods at the time of purchase includes Irish VAT and duties, meaning no further such charges will arise on delivery.
"However, where this is not the case, the amount of VAT and any duties due will be payable when the goods arrive in Ireland," she stated.
"Online shoppers should also be aware that separate to import taxes and duties, it is normal practice for parcel operators to also charge an administration fee, the amount of which can vary across operators," she cautioned.
"You will have to pay all of these additional charges to the postal service or parcel operator before the goods will be delivered to you," she added.
Revenue gave some examples of the additional charges that can arise.
If a consumer here buys a Christmas jumper online for €20 from a non-EU country, VAT at 23% will apply to the cost of the jumper plus the parcel operator's administration fee for bringing the goods to Ireland.
"In monetary terms, this means that for a Christmas Jumper that costs €20 and for which a €3.50 administration fee applies, €5.40 VAT will have to be paid before the jumper is delivered to you," Ms Dalton said.
"If the purchase price of the goods alone is more than €150 you will have to pay Customs Duty and VAT. For example, if you purchase a coat from the UK, costing €250, assuming an administration fee of €12, you will pay an additional €97.16 in combined Customs Duty and VAT, adding more than €100 to the original purchase price, which may influence the decision to purchase," she added.
Revenue also said that online shoppers should be aware that a ".ie" domain name does not necessarily mean that a website is based in Ireland.
Shoppers can check where a business is based by reading through the "About", "Contact us" and "Terms and Conditions sections of the website of the business concerned", it added.