IMHO, all this discussion about VAT and custom handling or tax goes in a wrong direction.
When I paid my USD 599, I did not bought any product because there wasn’t (and still isn’t) any product to buy. I donated the money for an OpenSource project with vague target of building something new. The money (my money) was used to pay developers (…) in this project. It could have even ended up that there wouldn’t be (or even will not be) any product at the end of the day. When Puism later sends out the devices to the backers of the project, we all do not know what the real value of it is. For me it has a high usage value (a Linux phone!!!). For the normal Android or iPhone user it’s perhaps just a null value. And Purism should not declare the box as a bought product, but declare the box as a gift and put a label on it “We thank you for your donation and your trust in the future. Here we have a small gadget for you to remember our campaign”.
That’s my humble opinion about. And it’s the full truth of the story.