The Irish Mail on Sunday
Anything to declare, George?
Riddle over whether Clooney paid £100,000 duty on his fiancée’s £415,000 diamond engagement ring when she flew into Heathrow
GEORGE Clooney’s engagement could be a taxing affair, with the actor possibly having to cough up £100,000 to the British taxman for Amal Alamuddin’s £415,000 engagement ring.
Amal was seen wearing the seven-carat emerald-cut ring as she went through customs at Heathrow on May 13.
However, travellers such as human rights lawyer Amal, 36, who arrive in Britain from a non-EU country, have to pay customs duty and import VAT on all goods that exceed the stated allowances,
And duty for a diamond ring like Amal’s would be 2.5% of the total value, more than £10,000, plus import VAT of 20% of its value.
That would leave George owing the taxman close to £94,000.
Infuriatingly for the couple, if George had bought the ring in America, and brought it into Britain himself before giving it to Amal, no duties would be been payable – a potentially costly mistake by the actor and director.
Last night, his spokesman refused to disclose whether Amal stopped to pay the tax at the airport or whether she was planning to settle up later, saying: ‘I have no idea of the validity of your story and I have no intention of even addressing it.’ Amal also wouldn’t be drawn on the subject.
A revenue spokesman said: ‘Bringing in goods bought from outside the EU, whether in person or through the post, could attract customs duty or import VAT. Customers should check the current limits on the HMRC website.’
It’s not the first time celebrities have seemingly broken the rules surrounding the import of valuables to Britain.
Victoria Beckham was caught out in 1998 when she was asked to pay a £3,000 bill after failing to declare the £50,000 engagement ring she bought for David while in the US. She paid up but had the money refunded to her after an apparent breach of confidentiality.
Cherie Blair had her own runin with customs in 2003 when she became the subject of an inquiry into pearls worth thousands of pounds brought back from a trip to China.
Amal had flown into Heathrow Airport from LA where she had been celebrating her engagement with friends, including Cindy Crawford.