Tax exemption for balikbayan boxes sought

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A LAWMAKER filed a bill seeking to exempt overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from paying taxes for packages sent to the Philippines, with limitations set at one per month and a specific balikbayan box size.     

Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez filed on Monday House Bill No. 6752, which provides tax-free privilege for a box measuring 24”x24”x30” sent to the family.   

The exemption includes all duties and taxes imposed under the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 and the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines.  

“These balikbayan boxes serve as the enduring testament of their sacrifice and hard work in order to secure a better future for their families back home. They represent their love and care for their families, who have to endure months or even years of separation from each other,” Mr. Rodriguez said in a statement.  

The bill also disallows the Bureau of Customs (BoC) from forcefully opening the balikbayan boxes. It can only be inspected through an x-ray or through sniffer dogs.  

Balikbayan boxes can only be opened when the consignor’s export declaration and packing list are not attached to the package or if the BoC receives information that the items in the package are banned, prohibited, or regulated under existing laws. 

The bill also proposes to expand the definition of a balikbayan’s family in Republic Act No. 6768 or the Balikbayan Program.   

Under the measures, a balikbayan’s family will include not just spouse and children but also parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, and relatives within the 4th degree of relationship living in the Philippines.  

The bill is pending at the House committee on overseas workers affairs. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz