De minimis

A value below which goods can be shipped into a country before duties & taxes are assessed

Trinkets, postcards, or even sweets and snacks — the effort taken to claim customs duties on such items outweighs the tax revenue that can be extracted from it. As such, most countries set a threshold under which it does not claim duties.

The legal term for this threshold is called the De Minimis Threshold (DMT) — derived from the full expression “de minimis non curat lex”. This roughly translates as “the law does not concern itself about very small matters”.

In the US, for instance, the DMT is US$800 (€702.70). This means that goods valued at US$800 or less can enter the US without incurring taxes.

The popularity of online shopping coupled with international logistics services has enabled more businesses and consumers to leverage on the tax-free concessions for goods that are imported from overseas.

The DMT has long been a hotly debated political subject, particularly in matters of trade and protectionism. Many smaller businesses believe that having too high a DMT could hurt local businesses and affect jobs, while consumers believe that a low DMT unfairly penalizes them when they shop online.

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