Customs' Christmas gift for OFWs: Duties, taxes relaxed

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Bureau of Customs (BoC) Deputy Commissioner Arturo Lachica said in an interview with CNN Philippines that this Christmas season the bureau would be more lenient in the processing of pasalubong (homecoming gifts) of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

"We don't strictly impose the Customs duty and taxes sa mga totoong balikbayan boxes," Lachica said.

[Translation: "We don't strictly impose Customs duty and taxes on the real balikbayan boxes."]

"Alam natin na ang batas natin ay medyo talagang lumang-luma na. Enacted in 1967 pa, nung panahon na yun wala pang traffic."

[Translation: "We know that the law is outdated. It was enacted in 1967 — even traffic did not exist during those times."]

Lachica explained that the Tariff and Customs Code only allows Filipinos who stayed at least six months abroad to bring in personal effects worth P10,000 and an additional P10,000 worth of appliances.

"In excess of P10,000 the balikbayan will be taxed 50 percent ad valorem tax," he said. "Kaya more often than not, hindi na natin masyado ini-enforce yan lalo na ngayong pasko."

[Translation: "In excess of P10,000, the balikbayan will be taxed 50% ad valorem tax.  That's why more often than not, we don't really strictly enforce this especially during Christmas season."]

According to Lachica, Section 100 of the law also stipulates that all imported goods are subject to taxes — including signature and second-hand items.

"For example, galing abroad na binili, ginagamit na, tapos dinala ditokasama yan, taxable pa rin.  The law did not make any distinction. Dapat kasi may declaration yan if you go out of the country.  Para pag balik mo it will not be subject to tax," Lachica said.

[Translation: For example, if something was bought abroad, was used there and was brought back here, it's still included — it's still taxable. It should be in the declaration if you go out of the country.  So that when you come back, it will not be subject to tax.]

Also read: OFW loses P20,000 worth of gifts in tampered balikbayan box

OFW group Samahang Pilipino in Afghanistan estimates that over 100,000 OFWs have arrived and are still coming home to spend Christmas with their loved ones.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminals 1,2, and 3 are coping with arrivals with thousands of passengers each day.