Recto’s balikbayan box bill to increase tax exemption to $2,000

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Recto’s balikbayan box bill to increase tax exemption to $2,000
The proposed law seeks to exempt the tax-exempt value of the contents of a balikbayan box to $2,000, from the current $500

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto is set to file a proposed Balikbayan Box Law, which seeks to raise the tax-exempt value of the contents of a balikbayan box to $2,000.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) Memorandum Circular Number 7990 pegs a maximum value of $500 per balikbayan box shipped by a Filipino national to the Philippines.

Recto said the amount is antiquated.

“If the Bureau of Customs is insisting that it is just implementing existing rules on the matter, then we might as well change the rules,” Recto said.

Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina said on Monday that balikbayan boxes are those brought to the country by Filipinos who are returning home, and that based on a presidential decree issued by President Fidel Ramos, they are tax exempt if their value is equivalent to up to P10,000 ($213.50). They would have to pay the tax in excess of the exemption. (READ: Customs’ Bert Lina: Be honest, declare what’s in your #BalikbayanBox)

Thus, Recto said the new tariff rate is proposed to recover the rise in inflation, adjust to the escalation of the peso-dollar exchange rate, and the purchasing power of the peso over the last quarter of a century.

Another provision of the bill is to index or adjust the maximum value per box every 6 years.

Crowdsourcing ideas

Recto also proposed that “the Senate should crowdsource ideas from all stakeholders, including the Bureau of Customs.”

“The BOC has been saying that it is plagued by equipment lack, like X-rays which could render the physical opening of boxes unnecessary. If that’s the case, then they should report what they need,” Recto said.

He also pointed out the absence of criminal and administrative penalties on those who pilfer the contents of parcels or wittingly cause the delay of their release of delivery.

He added that current protocols on how overseas Filipino workers (OFW)-sent parcels are processed in post offices should be reviewed.

Thus hiking the maximum allowable value of a balikbayan box would remove the motive to check shipped or mailed parcels for dutiable goods, Recto said.

Recto reiterated that raising the threshold of balikbayan box value is nothing compared to the P2.28 trillion in remittances sent last year.

Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara also said Monday that the ways and means committee which he chairs is seeking to increase the ceiling of tax- and duty-free items and goods from OFWs from the present P10,000 ($213.50) to P150,000 ($3209.85). (READ: Angara seeks higher tax exemption for balikbayan box items) –

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