Friday, March 11, 2011

Essay: Customs Duties on Books 2011

Just got back from the post office to pick up books sent by a publisher (for review purposes and gifts, as opposed to something I purchased). Now I honestly don't mind paying taxes for books (as someone tweeted to me, pleasure derived from books is priceless). What I am asking from the government, however, is some consistency. So are the taxes on book imports lifted or not? (From my understanding, massive book importers aren't taxed anymore [but I don't work for any major bookstore so I don't know if that's truly the case] but individuals claiming packages from the post office are.) Are we honoring the Florence Agreement or not? Look, I'm not against taxing of import books per se, but if the government is just going to tax us, at the very least it should be written in our laws rather than the hypocrisy of claiming one statement and practicing another. There is also the arguable breakdown of fees charged on us citizens.

So a publisher sent me books with a declared value of $50.00 (P2,150.00). Unfortunately, I was taxed $22.23 (P956.00). Attached is a scan of the receipt but allow me to elaborate on the breakdown:

Import Duty: $2.00 (P107.5). 5% of the declared value.
BIR Taxes: $0.35 (P15.00). Probably a fixed rate.
VAT: $7.74 (P333.00). This is computed by getting 12% of the declared value plus import duty plus BIR taxes plus customs duty plus import processing fee. (Is it reasonable that 12% is computed after all the other fees? Well, my main complaint is why are there so many miscellaneous fees such as customs duty.)
Customs Duty: $5.81 (P250.00). I have no idea how this is computed. It seems that this price varies from product to product based on duties on other products I researched online. But this seems to be a relatively fixed rate for books.
Import Processing Fee: $5.81 (P250.00). Fixed rate. (This together with customs duty is an impractical amount for books. What if a publisher sent me a book with a retail value of around P500? Already happened to me last year.)

Everything amounts to $22.23 (P956.00), which isn't inclusive of the postal fee ($0.93 or P40.00).

1 comment:

Marc said...

As far as I remember GMA was supposed to have issued an executive order making it easier for book buyers to get books by waiving the documentary requirement. But this was never done.

Last I read if you want to get your books in untaxed, you have to apply for an exemption from the Department of Finance from their main office along Roxas Boulevard. And the exemption you get only applies for that shipment. Dunno if it's changed with the new administration.