Bureau of Customs Imposed Tax and Duties to Imported Harry Potter Books
Another issue has been recently added to the stack of complaints against the "inefficient" and "corrupt" implementation of taxation in the Bureau of Customs(BOC) under the supervision of its current Comissioner Alberto Lina. After the controversial random unboxing of Balikbayan packages from Overseas Filipino Workers(OFWs), yet another unacceptable display of "dumb" computation of taxes and duties had been recorded for a set of imported Harry Potter books.
The Department of Finace announced clear guidelines regarding tax rate exemption for imported books on December 9, 2011 (DEPARTMENT ORDER NO. 57-2011) with a rationale of;
All imported books, whether for commercial or personal use with the exception of those published by or for a private commercial enterprise essentially for advertising purposes as stated in Annex A of the Florence Agreement, are exempt from customs duties. Importation of books is likewise exempt from value-added tax (VAT) pursuant to Section 109 (R) of the National Internal Revenue Code.
A fan of J. K. Rowling named Elizabeth Ramos placed an order online for the famous Harry Potter fantasy series (7 books). When she was notified that the books are ready for pick-up she immediately went to EMS Pasay Office. She waited for hours and to her dismay, BOC officers taxed the imported books. She tried to negotiate and she informed the officers as well that it's a violation against the law of the Republic of the Philippines.
Ramos was totally disappointed with the response of the BOC employee who argued to her and claimed that all books merit appropriate duties and taxes. One old "incompetent" BOC clerk even challenged Ramos and said, "Marunong pa kayo samin."
Dahil sikat ang #BureauOfCorrupt este #BureauOfCustoms.
Here's my experience to the most corrupt government office of the Philippines.
I ordered Harry Potter Boxed Set (7books) from Bookdepository. I got the #EMS notice last December 2014. I got really excited when I received the notice card but also scared because I heard/read horror stories regarding the tax on books impose by the Pasay Post Office. Books are exempted to tax if its not more than 6 books PER title.
Me and BF went to EMS Pasay Office prepared to face them. I brought the copy of the Dept Order regarding the tax exemption of books. When I got there, we have to wait for my number to be called. We waited for 1 and a half hour. When I was called, I went to the inspection room. They open my package and compute for the tax. They asked me to wait again to be called to another room. There was an old man there selling snacks (near the CRs) he told me that "Kapag lumagpas ng 2k yung tax sayo lapit ka sakin." When I was called to another room, they showed me their computation. That's when I explained to them that books are exempted to tax according to the copy of the Dept Order 57-2011 and the Florence Agreement (with highlights and everything) that I brought. That its for personal use etc. However, they pointed out that it was more than 6 books. They even told me that the Harry Potter books are all the same! One lady even told us "Marunong pa kayo samin". Grabe lang inis ko nun.
We went home with nothing.
The next few weeks, I researched about the tax on books and who should I tell my concern. Salamat FB and IG friends! ??
I tweeted @mlq3 first then he mentioned @pcdspo. PCDSPO asked me to email them. I asked both of the accounts if my Harry Potter Boxed Set (7books) should be taxed. And they answered me that books are not taxable and that my Harry Potter books are tax exempted.
They forwarded my email to these email adds
Then I think the BoC forwarded my email to Pasay Post Office. I went back to the post office and went straight to their room. I talked to someone told my name. Yea! He knew me (because of the email)! I tried again to tell him that books are tax exempted but he told me that theres no need for my explanation. He asked someone to get my books and asked me to pay for 100php for the storage fee. He even asked me if "Sino ba kapit mo?" And I was like "Huh?!". Ang sarap sabihan na Lolo ko kasi si Fidel V. Ramos at Tito ko si Manuel Quezon ?? (Joke lang..di kami related)
From then on, sinumpa ko na yang Customs at Post Office na yan. Pero parang gusto kong ulitin para mairecord mga palusot nila. ?? Mag antay lang kayo, pag nagsale ulit ang Harry Potter boxed set baka sipagin ako ??
P.S. The part with the erasure was the discounted "tax" for 700php the guy erased it when I said I don't want to pay for it.
With all the incidents and misinformation given by these BOC employees, do we still give them our trust? For sure, not all of them are part of these illegal activities but as an ordinary citizen who has less visibility on what they actually do to our packages, it's unevitable to question the integrity of the whole agency.
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