GRA wrongfully classified 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser as passenger vehicle – Court rules

he 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser that was imported by the businessman
The 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser that was imported by the businessman

Justice Damone Younge has ruled that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) had wrongfully classified a 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Utility Commercial vehicle imported by a local businessman as a “passenger vehicle”, causing him to be required to pay nearly $14M in taxes and duties.

Mohamed Shaw Jahan, who operates an auto spares company and cattle ranch, had sued the GRA and its Commissioner General, Godfrey Statia for what he claimed is the wrongful classification of the vehicle which he imported from the United Kingdom.

The businessman was represented by Attorney Siand Dhurjon who revealed to the media that the learned Judge agreed with all his submissions on behalf of his client.

Attorney-at-Law Siand Dhurjon

Dhurjon said the Judge declared that the vehicle was a goods vehicle which fell under tariff heading 8704 and issued an order of certiorari to quash the erroneous classification by GRA.

The trial Judge then issued an order of mandamus to compel the GRA and Statia to classify the vehicle as a goods vehicle under tariff heading 8704 and to accept the $1,871,457 already paid as taxes and duties within seven days.

The Judge ordered that the respondents take all steps necessary to see to the release of the vehicle as soon as practicable and that Jahan be reimbursed by the GRA and  Statia for the costs of storing the vehicle at the John Fernandes terminal from January, 2021 to the date of its release. The learned judge also ordered that the GRA and Statia pay the costs of Jahan’s lawsuit to him.

It was previously reported that in October 2020, Jahan bought the Land Cruiser from England where it was classified as a ‘light goods vehicle’. However, the GRA insisted that the vehicle is a passenger vehicle.

Dhurjon had made clear that because the Land Cruiser is a special model which only has two seats, two doors, two ventilating windows, a flatbed cargo area to the rear and a barrier between the cargo area and the driver area, it is ‘exclusively qualified to be a goods vehicle’.

Dhurjon argued that any classification of the vehicle as a passenger vehicle would be an “erroneous misclassification and a misapprehension of the Common External Tariff found in Schedule 1 of the Customs Act, the Harmonised System Classification Codes and the World Customs Organisation’s Explanatory Notes on the issue”.

Jahan had sought many opportunities to meet Statia over the wrong classification of the enclosed 2,800cc diesel van as a ‘vehicle principally designed for the transport of persons. But this meeting was never permitted, instead Jahan was referred to another officer of the GRA who maintained the position that the vehicle is a passenger vehicle.