Customs duties are one of the oldest taxes. They are taxes that are levied according to the customs tariff from the movement of goods across the customs border. Tariffs serve to generate revenue or to protect the national economy. They are still important in many countries today, although after the 1947 GATT agreement, the elimination of all tariffs was agreed as a trade policy goal.
In Europe there has been a unified economic area without borders since 1993 with the European single market. The European Customs Union resulted in the abolition of customs duties on the movement of goods within the EU member states. The customs offices at the internal borders were closed. With the 1994 Customs Code, national customs law was repealed. The exclusive legislative competence of the federal government for customs duties has been transferred to the EU. However, controls at the EU's external borders are still required. Import duties are levied on imports from third countries in accordance with the EU Common Customs Tariff.
Der deutschen Zollverwaltung obliegt die Verwaltung der Verbrauchsteuern (z. B. Mineralölsteuer, Electricity tax or Tobacco tax), die Einfuhrumsatzsteuer sowie für die EU Zölle auf Waren aus Drittländern. Zolleinnahmen, die Deutschland an die EU abführt, belaufen sich auf rd. 2,9 Mrd. €. Für den internationalen Handel ist die 1950 gegründete Weltzollorganisation (World Customs Organization) von Bedeutung.
It records and monitors all countries involved in world trade with the aim of harmonizing customs law around the world, and standardizing and simplifying customs formalities. Since 1995 regulations have been laid down in the “Council for Cooperation in the Field of Customs” which are applied by all states and economic unions.
With the European and worldwide harmonization of customs law, especially through the World Customs Organization and World Trade Organization, customs duties are the most closely aligned part of tax law.