Good News for OFWs: Balikbayan boxes now practically tax-free and duty free

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by Homerun Nievera | Bravo Filipino |

Millions of the Philippines’ overseas workers can now be happier.

Senator Angara announced the signing into law of the Republic Act 10863 — the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (or CMTA) — which effectively increases the value of items to be tax-exempt that will be sent home by overseas Filipinos to their families in the Philippines.

With the CMTA law, OFWs can now send back home three (3) balikbayan boxes a year with its contents valued up to PhP 150,000 (from the previous PhP 10,000) and will not be subject to tax. According to Angara, this will effectively lessen the discretion of the Customs officers to inspect goods and collect taxes, and at the same time minimize corruption and smuggling.

Angara said, “Huwag naman sana natin parusahan ang ating mga OFW sa pamamagitan ng pagpataw ng mataas na buwis at sa mga umano’€™y pangangalkal at pagnanakaw sa mga padala sa loob ng balikbayan boxes.”

The CMTA also states the contents of the balikbayan boxes shall not be in commercial quantities nor intended for barter, sale or for hire.

In addition, Republic Act 10863 states that returning Filipinos who have stayed overseas for at least 10 years will be exempted from tax for personal and household effects not exceeding P350,000 on those that they will bring with them when they return to the home to the Philippines.

For Pinoys returning after at least five years, tax and duty exemptions for personal and household effects will be P250,000, while those who have stayed abroad for less than five years can enjoy P150,000 tax-free ceiling.

The law also increased  the value of tax and duty free goods and the minimum cost of goods required to undergo formal Customs entry from the today’s PhP 10 to PhP 10,000. This will deter customs officials in postal offices from bothering OFW families with small packages.

To permanently do away with the outdated values, the bill provides for an automatic indexation of the amounts every three years to account for inflation.

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