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Palace: Time to review tax-exempt limit on balikbayan boxes

Louis Bacani - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Wednesday welcomed the bill filed by Sen. Ralph Recto that would increase the tax-exempt value of the contents of a balikbayan box.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. noted that it has been a long time since the tax rules imposed on balikbayan boxes were crafted.

"Napapanahon na rin siguro na pag-aralan ng ating mga mambabatas kung anong mga pagbabago ang kinakailangan," Coloma said in a press briefing.

He said the Palace will study Recto's proposed measure.

"Pag-aaralan namin ang mga panukala at titingnan kung ano ang pinaka-makatuwirang posisyon na maaaring mapanindigan ng pamahalaan, kapag nabasa na at naunawaan na namin ang buong panukala ni Senador Recto," he said.

On Tuesday, Recto filed Senate Bill 2913 or the Balikbayan Box Law which seeks to increase the tax-exempt value of the contents of a balikbayan box to $2,000 from the present $500.

Recto filed the measure after President Aquino ordered the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to stop the random physical inspection of balikbayan boxes.

While he called Aquino's orders "very laudable and time-on-target," Recto said stopping random inspections is only a temporary relief for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Recto said the "motive and the temptation" of Customs employees to open boxes sent by ordinary OFWs will be gone by raising the tax-exempt ceiling.

He said the proposed $2,000 cap per carton will be hard to breach.

"Halos lahat ng mga balikbayan boxes na padala ng mga OFWs ay hindi umaabot sa ganung halaga," Recto said.

"Ang $2,000 limit ang bakuna laban sa paghahalughog," he added.

Recto said the 25-year-old BOC Memorandum Circular 7990, which pegs a maximum value of $500 per balikbayan box, had been overtaken by foreign exchange upheavals and inflationary pressures.

He said after the new tax-exempt limit is adjusted to $2,000, the next mandatory revisit of such amount would take place every six years.

"We don't have to wait for a quarter of century again to adjust the ceiling," Recto said.

ANG BALIKBAYAN BALIKBAYAN BOX LAW BUREAU OF CUSTOMS COMMUNICATIONS SECRETARY HERMINIO COLOMA JR. MEMORANDUM CIRCULAR ON TUESDAY PRESIDENT AQUINO QUOT RALPH RECTO RECTO
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