Filipina boxer 'hurt' by Customs tax bill on championship belt
MANILA, Philippines – Can you put a price tag on winning a boxing world championship?
The Bureau of Customs apparently thought so and valued Filipina boxer Jujeath Nagaowa’s Women’s International Boxing Association (WIBA) junior flyweight title at P20,147.77 ($431).
The 27-year-old Nagaowa won the Florida-based organization’s 108-pound title on June 6 when she traveled to Macau to defeat Chinese boxer Luo Yu Jie by 10-round decision. The belt only arrived in the Philippines recently, and the BOC billed the Baguio City-born fighter P5,819 ($124 USD) in taxes – P3,027.13 customs duty and P2,782 value added tax – to retrieve the belt.
Nagaowa shared her story to a friend, who made a Facebook post about her plight that went viral. In a post on her own Facebook, Nagaowa (13-15-1, 8 knockouts) says she was able to retrieve the belt with the help of friends.
“Yes, it’s true & yes it hurts, that after battling full 10 rounds of boxing for this belt, & after some days of agony waiting for it's arrival in my place, so much disappointed coz this big thing of mine is also waiting for me for a trade before claiming it,” Nagaowa’s post reads.
“Life must go on (& am just lucky enough with friends) so must have to pay for it than losing the only evidence I could have that once in my existence, I gambled my life for a lifetime treasure that others may take over my throne but can't take this crown.#WIBAIntlChampBelt.”
Requests for comment from Nagaowa, her manager Brico Santig, and WIBA representative Ryan Wissow were not returned.
The championship win comes after 8 previous attempts at world titles that ended in defeats. Nagaowa had previously traveled to South Korea, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, and Thailand in search of championship gold, only to lose oftentimes on close decisions.
Nagaowa's championship win over Luo Yu Jie
In addition to competing in boxing, Nagaowa has also fought in mixed martial arts, maintaining a 2-0 record in competitions with One Championship.
Female boxers, even those at the championship level, rarely if ever get television coverage and typically make significantly smaller purses than their male counterparts. Many also work secondary jobs to support themselves, as was chronicled in an article in The Atlantic in January of this year.
One Philippine-based boxing promoter told Rappler that he was “shocked” about Nagaowa’s situation, saying he had never had that issue with Customs before.
“When they see us with belts they greet us with smiles and congratulate us,” said the promoter.
BOC public relations officer Belle Maestro told Rappler that the agency had only heard of her issue through the viral Facebook post on Thursday, August 27. She said no formal complaint had been filed with the office.
“We’re checking right now what really happened,” Maestro said. “We’re also verifying if awards such as a belt is taxable or not. Apparently it may be, but it could be tax exempted if she requested for it.”
Maestro invited Jujeath to coordinate with BOC directly to apply for a tax exemption for the belt with Department of Finance (DOF), which she says could authorize the tax exemption.
BOC Commissioner Alberto Lina tells Rappler he has asked NAIA district collector Edgar Macabeo to explain why the championship belt was taxed. He also ordered Macabeo submit a report on the incident.
“There is a policy that the rewards and trophies may be exempted from paying taxes if they are able to secure a tax exemption from the DOF. If they failed to secure a tax exempt from the DOF, then they would have to pay the duties and taxes,” said Lina. – Rappler.com