Tax and duty collection in Thailand dates back to the Sukhothai period and continued throughout the Adyudhaya and Rattanakosin periods. A new era of Thai Customs commenced in 1874 during the reign of King Rama IV and the “Customs House” was established to collect taxes and duties. During the reign of King Rama V, “Hoe Ratsadakorn Pipat” was founded to handle all kinds of tax collection and became the foundation of the present Customs Department.
The primary responsibility of the Customs Department continues to be to impose and collect duties on a wide range of imported goods as well as certain exported goods. However, as Thailand has played an increasingly active role in global trade, the Customs Department has taken on additional responsibilities, including the administration and enforcement of Thailand’s laws concerning taxation, exchange control and other laws related to cross border activities. It is also playing an increasing role in enforcing intellectual property rights by combating counterfeiting and piracy (http://www.iprcustoms.com/index.php?lay=show&ac=article&Id=332247).
The Customs Department may have even greater responsibilities as a result of a long awaited update to Thailand’s Customs Act B.E. 2469 (1926). The Customs Act has been amended over twenty times since first being implemented in 1926, and a draft of a new act has recently been disclosed to the public that would not only consolidate all previous amendments but revise the system for penalties and rewards to counter bribery. Under the proposed draft, limits on anti-bribery rewards would be THB 10 million for informants and THB 5 million for customs officials (there are no limits under the current law). The draft also introduces different penalties depending on the offence (e.g. penalties for smuggling would be more severe than for duty evasion). The new law would also expand liability to customs brokers and other agents of importers and exporters if they cannot prove they were not involved in any wrongdoing. Thailand’s business community will welcome proposed extensions to the deadline for claiming refunds on excess duties from two years to three in the proposed draft, along with the ability to obtain advance rulings from the Customs Department.