Customs loosens guidelines on tax-free balikbayan boxes

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will no longer have to submit a proof of purchase for items inside balikbayan boxes sent to the Philippines, as the Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Thursday said it suspended such guidelines for the meantime.

In a statement, the BOC said it suspended both Customs Administrative Order (CAO) 05-2016 and Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) 04-2017 until March 31, 2018.

“The BOC has temporarily suspended the guidelines in the implementation of the duty and tax-free privilege of consolidated balikbayan boxes, following the upsurge of criticisms among overseas Filipino workers,” it said.

Under both CAO 05-2016 and CMO 04-2017, Filipino citizens who send balikbayan boxes to the Philippines are required to submit a photocopy of their Philippine passport to avail of the government’s tax exemption.

They are also required to provide a copy of the invoice, receipt, or proof of payments of the goods contained in the balikbayan box.

Previously, such requirements were not needed for OFWs to qualify for the tax exemption, as long as shipments did not exceed a value of P150,000.

“Although it is our duty to facilitate customs clearance of balikbayan boxes, we cannot set aside the sentiments of our fellow Filipinos abroad,” Customs Commissioner Isidro S. Lapeña said.

“With the suspension of the current procedure on balikbayan box, the previous regulation will be enforced,” he added. —Jon Viktor D. Cabuenas/KBK, GMA News

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