OFWs and Balikbayans can now send pasalubong or balikbayan boxes TAX FREE for items worth up to P150,000 total per year.
This law is part of the Balikbayan Box Law or BBL signed by former President Aquino last 2016. This law is otherwise known as Republic Act 10863. But the guidelines was only crafted this year 2017 by the Bureau of Customs.
Now, that December 2017 is coming, we expect millions of our OFWs will be sending home balikbayan boxes for the Christmas season. If you are an OFW, make sure you know about the Balikbayan Box Law. Maximize the tax-free sending for the benefit of your love ones!
NEW RULE: ITEMIZED LIST REQUIRED
Beginning 2017, the Bureau of Customs requires senders to list all things inside the balikbayan box, and indicate the value of each item. This is for security purpose, and also as a precaution in case something went missing inside the box.
You can use the balikbayan box list in case you need to file a case against the forwarded or even against custom officers, as necessary.
Balikbayan boxes with personal items and household stuff worth P150,000 and lower sent within the calendar year are tax free! But the sender must fill up the special Information Sheet to avail of the balikbayan box privelege.
The official rule is to prepare 3 copies of the Information Sheet list PER BOX. But we suggest to make it 4 copies. Put one copy of the balikbayan box list inside the box (not required but we strongly suggest you do this), one copy pasted on the box itself, one copy to the forwarder or consolidator, and (important) retain one copy for your personal file. It’s recommended that you have the cargo forwarder signed and acknowledge your items declaration list.
The Bureau of Customs will not open the boxes, unless there is something highly suspect inside the box.
This new rule on itemizing all items inside the box will come into effect starting August 1, 2017, this directive was from the Bureau of Customs balikbayan box memo under Customs Memorandum Order 04-2017. Also, part of this new guideline is that the box recipient must be a relative of the sender.
Several OFW groups tagged this moved by Customs as ‘money making’ activity and protest the new rule that only a kin or relative can be the designated recipient.
It is common knowledge that there are couples who are not married but are ‘living-in’ together. Based on this guideline, the OFW or Qualified Filipino While Abroad is not allowed to send the boxes to his or her partner in the Philippines since he or she is not relative.
*You can still send normally to your life partner but you will not be able to enjoy the tax-exemption under this new law.
The allowed recipient under the Balikbayan Box Privilege law are the following:
- Sibling of Parent
- 1st Cousin
- Niece or Nephew
- Sibling of Grandparent
- Grand Niece or Nephew
- Great Grandchild
- Great Grandparent
*Based on news reports, a passport copy must be given to the cargo forwarders to verify that it is a Filipino who is availing of the tax-exempt privilege.
Some senators are now looking into this new guideline issued by the Bureau of Customs. Should there be a rule change, iSensey will update this post. Make sure you Like and Follow iSensey on Facebook to get alert when there are updates on this topic. Thanks.
OFW Concerns and Questions about Balikbayan Boxes
Some of the common questions and concerns regarding the balikbayan boxes are the following:
How much can you put in the balikbayan box? Maximum of P150,000 in total value in one year, to enjoy the tax free perk.
Update on this as of August 4, 2017 – Senator Sonny Angara said that the Balikbayan Box Law is P150,000 per sending, maximum of 3 sending per year or a total of P450,000 tax free personal and household effects. But he said that the Customs interpretation of the Balikbayan Box Law is 3 sendings for a maximum value of P150,000 per year.
iSensey will post update regarding this confusion on the Implementing Rules and Regulations as more info comes along.
What can you put inside the box? You can put personal items and household effects in limited quantity.
If you’ve put say 10 perfume bottles – this is already considered ‘commercial quantity‘ and thus, subject to tax.
How many of each item can you put inside the balikbayan box that will be considered as “personal effect” and thus, not taxable per the Super Section 800 of CMTA?
According to the Bureau of Customs, the sender is allowed maximum of 5 pieces of the same item to be considered for personal use.
Example: 5 pcs of shoes inside the balikbayan box or max of 5 watches inside the box (each piece must be less than P10K to enjoy the no-receipt-required).
Is there a need to submit receipt or invoice of the things inside the balikbayan box? No there is no need if the value of an item is LESS THAN P10k. If the item you put inside is a high-value item or brand new product worth more than P10k, then a copy of the receipt or invoice is required.
Example: luxury bags, watches, shoes that is price higher than P10,000.
What if the item is worth more than P10K, example a laptop worth P20K, what is the procedure? The sender must put a copy of the receipt or invoice for the high value item inside the box. This item is not tax-exempt.
What if say your boss or employer gave you an old bag, are you required to provide receipt or invoice? Per Customs rules, no, as long as the item is old or second hand or given by someone to you as a gift, provided value is less than P10,000.
But in these 2 circumstances, you still need to place an estimated or approximate value to the item in your declaration list.
What if the item is a gift but worth more than P10,000, example a TV gift for your wedding. Are you required to provide receipt or invoice? Per the rule, yes. Regardless if the item is a gift or you bought it yourself, as long as the value is more than 10,000 pesos, you must provide receipt copy.
*This is something that does not sit well with our Overseas Filipino Workers since how can you ask someone who gave you a gift to also include the receipt? Unfortunately, the Customs rules are clear about items, given or bought, that is worth P10,000 and above requires receipt or invoice.
How many boxes can the OFW send na pasok sa “balikbayan box privelge”? As many boxes as you may want to send, provided that total value of all boxes sent in one year will not exceed P150K. Any excess of the P150K value limit it subject to duty and import tax.
*OFWs and Qualified Filipino Citizens While Abroad can send duty and tax free boxes maximum of 3 times per year.
Example: You sent 3 boxes worth P20K in February, then 5 boxes in September worth 55K pesos and 1 box come December worth P20K. Total worth of the balikbayan boxes you’ve sent back home is P95K within one calendar year, so this is still tax exempt.
Check this section in the Balikbayan Box Information Sheet:
There is a Customs’s designated Balikbayan Box Information Sheet for those who wants to avail of the balikbayan box privilege. Go to the website of Customs www. customs.gov.ph, download the form and fill it up.
See the Senders Information section on the info sheet:
And this is the Recipient section and the Itemized list:
You can call the Bureau of Customs at these telephone numbers (02) 705 6000 or (02) 705 6052 for your specific concerns.
iSensey will be updating this post as more questions come in and we find credible answers.
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