Filipino families who are waiting for balikbayan boxes from their loved ones abroad will not be able to enjoy the higher tax exemption of P150,000 this Christmas season since the Bureau of Customs failed to finish the implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
STAR/Kriz John Rosales, file photo
Balikbayan boxes still not exempt from taxes
BABE'S EYE VIEW FROM WASHINGTON D.C. - Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - November 26, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Filipino families who are waiting for balikbayan boxes from their loved ones abroad will not be able to enjoy the higher tax exemption of P150,000 this Christmas season since the Bureau of Customs failed to finish the implementing rules and regulations (IRR).

Six months since the Customs Modernization Law (CMTA) was amended, Customs spokesman Col. Niel Anthony Estrella admitted the agency has yet to issue the IRR, saying they are still trying to consolidate inputs from the public.

“The committee handling the IRR is planning to finish it by the end of the year, but they need another month …but it seems they can’t make it, with all the holidays and all other things needed to be done for this coming season, we’re safe to say that by early next year, we’re about to finalize the IRR,” he said.

In the absence of the implementing rules, including the provision to increase the tax-exempt ceiling for balikbayan boxes from P10,000 to P150,000, Estrella said the old law would still prevail during this Christmas season.

The Customs’ policy contradicts the position of some of the principal authors of the CMTA.

Sen. Ralph Recto reiterated the absence of the IRR should not prevent the government from complying with the new law.

Recto said balikbayan boxes should be covered by the P150,000 duty- and tax-free tax ceiling for the shipments from overseas Filipino workers pursuant to the CMTA.

To expedite things, Recto said the Bureau of Customs could come up with its own order covering the particular section of the CMTA dealing with higher balikbayan box values.

Recto made the call in view of the expected increase in the number of overseas Filipinos coming home for Christmas.

“This should be seen as a pro-OFW move, part of the traditional red carpet treatment given to OFWs during the holidays,” he said.

BUREAU OF CUSTOMS
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