I believe what you want to say is that do you pay VAT and Tax in the UK if a friend of your who lives in the US buys something there on your behalf, sends it to the UK 'as a gift' and you pay him in the US by bank transfer??
Well, you will not pay VAT or tax in the UK PROVIDED that the customs receipt on the parcel which was completed in the US stated clearly that this is a 'gift' and ''has no value'.
On the other hand, if you travel to an non EEC country you have a tax free allowance on various goods/items.
The amount of the allowance depends on the country you are travelling to. I think in the US is something like $ 500 or $ 1,000(but check these figures). You can bring items that you baught in the US to the UK (up to that value) without paying tax or VAT. However, you will have to pay tax in the US.
Nevertheless, your best bet is to call Customs & Excise help line and they will be able to help you. They will also send you a book informing you about all these things.
But one should not look far, similar items are competitively priced in the EEC too. I believe that in Greece right now you find very cheap electronics i.e. VHFs, GPSs, TVs, Stereos etc as well as cars (believe it or not- cheaper than in the UK).
Italy is also competitive. Spain, Portugal, France, Germany and UK expenssive (UK being the most expenssive of all these countries- UK reminds me of HARODS
I also think that in Holland one can find some competitively priced electronics equipment too. And as we all know there is NO IMPORT TAX OR DUTY to items bought from an EEC Member State.
Now you will be wondering how do I know all these.
Am I a customs officer???
The answer is simple I had to learn it all and MUCH MORE in order to be able to get the most competitive deal for my customers.