Considering selling imported goods through ebay and/or etsy.com How to not get on the bad side of US government?


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I hope this question is on topic. I have a plan to make a bit of extra income.

I know a person in Africa (let's keep it this general for now) who can help me import some cheap local non-edible goods (for example, rugs - not organic other than for wood/bamboo/grass maybe) into in USA. I also know a person in a neighboring state who has a license to import, who would provide a little bit of a container space. Both guys want to get paid a certain amount, which seems reasonable, but the rest is my problem.

I am motivated and organized and have a small sum that I can invest into this, but I have never done anything like this.
I want to cover my butt in terms of

  1. Having straight paperwork that would minimize delays.
  2. Not having stuff confiscated or being charged an arm or a leg for it (not trying to import drugs or anything like that).
  3. Paying my fair share to Uncle Sam (if I have to) on proceeds.
  4. Anything else legal that I may not have thought of ...

The port in which the goods would arrive is out of my state; I then plan to sell them online from my state to USA and maybe Canada. I can find people to help me with logistics, but none of them are lawyers or accountants; they are street-wise guys who only want to do their small part and get paid, and where they come from, paying taxes is considered stupid. I've heard that small containers under certain value pass through easily. But, how is it valued? In the amount that was spent to buy it or in the amount that one would expect to sell it for?

I do not want to risk my already relatively comfy lifestyle and I am not looking forward to an audit of any sort, so what important things do I need to know? I want to keep an operation lean and simple - utilizing existing online store providers and not building my own web site, not registering the company unless I have to, not renting office space etc.

I plan to consult with an accountant on taxes, but I wanted to approach one once I have a semi-concrete business plan and a list of questions/items to get through.

Tax Legal Documents

asked Apr 10 '12 at 12:31
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101 points
  • Find an attorney who specializes in imports from that region. Some goods of organic origin (from plants *or* animals) have import restrictions due to either potential environmental hazards or production practices. – Dnbrv 9 years ago
  • Welcome! Your question is unclear. What exactly is your question? Asking "what important things do I need to know" is too large of a scope to be answered on this site. Please narrow down your scope. – Zuly Gonzalez 8 years ago

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