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Burden on OFWs' Balikbayan Box
« on: August 29, 2017, 12:21:54 AM »
STATEMENT BY THE HONORABLE
ANICETO “JOHN” D. BERTIZ, III
ACTS OFW Party-list
Member, Committees on Foreign Affairs,
Overseas Workers Affairs, Labor & Employment,
Appropriations, and 17 other committees

In Honor of OFWs, our Modern Day Heroes

CUSTOMS, PLEASE DO NOT OVERBURDEN OVERSEAS FILIPINOS ABOUT BALIKBAYAN BOXES, SOLON ASKS
 
I call upon the Bureau of Customs and the Department of Finance to REMOVE the requirement of the submission of invoices, receipt or proof of payment of the goods contained in the balikbayan boxes.
                                                                 
This imposition is burdensome and achieves no notable purpose. It is detached from reality or unrealistic. It is contained in Section 5.1.2 of CAO 05-2016 and Sections 4.2.3 (i.i.2) and (ii.ii.3) of CMO 04-2017.
 
It overlooks the fact that on an average, it takes an OFW almost 4-6 months to complete fill-up a balikbayan box before it is shipped to the Philippines.
 
Thus, to require the OFW to keep all of the receipts is not realistic, given that these are receipts issued by groceries, convenience stores and other thrift shops from whom the OFW buys voluminous items for consumption.
 
Moreover, there may be instances wherein a store does not issue receipts for items purchased by the OFW. Thus, the OFW will be hard-pressed to produce or even keep these documents in the first instance.
 
I also urge the Bureau of Customs and Department of Finance to simplify their definition of Qualified Filipinos Abroad because their current definition is restrictive and marginalizes individuals otherwise qualified to avail of the tax and duty-privilege provided for by the CMTA (Customs Modernization and Tariff Act).
 
The Bureau of Customs’ CAO 05-2016 limits the privilege of availing of the duty and tax-free exemption under Section 800(g) of Republic Act No. 10863 to “Qualified Filipinos While Abroad”, which is defined under Section 3.22 of CAO 05-2016, as follows:
 
“3.2 Qualified Filipinos Abroad- A collective term used to refer to Non-Resident Filipinos defined in Section 3.19, OFWS defined in Section 3.20 and Resident Filipinos under Section 3.24 of the CAO.”
 
On the other hand, the aforecited Sections of the CAO states, as follows:
 
1. Non-Resident Filipinos-refer to Filipinos who have established permanent residency abroad but have retained Filipino citizenship, whether or not they have availed of the benefits under Republic Act No. 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003;
 
2. Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) - refers to holders of a valid passport issued by the Department of Labor and Employment or POEA for overseas employment purposes. This covers all Filipinos working in a foreign country under employment contracts, regardless of their profession, skills or employment status in a foreign country. For purposes of the CAO, the term OFW includes Filipinos working abroad under job contracts who do not require a certification from the Department of Labor and Employment or the POEA.
 
3. Resident Filipinos-refers to Filipino citizens who temporarily stay abroad which may included holders of student visa, holders of investors visa, holders of tourist visa and similar visas which allows them to temporary stay abroad.
 
While the definition of “Non-Resident Filipinos” states that it refers to “Filipinos who have established permanent residency abroad but who have retained Filipino citizenship”, the same proviso states that the same is “whether or not they have availed of the benefits under Republic Act No. 9225”, we submit that the  spirit and intent of the law, as provided for in Section 800(g), is that the privilege is, and should be given to all Filipinos, regardless of whether they have lost their citizenship or whether they have applied for the reacquisition of Filipino citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 or whether they have been issue a valid visa by the government of the country where they are residing or working, as the case may be.
 
The CAO effectively marginalized or disenfranchised Filipinos who are undocumented or who may not possess the proper legal status for them to stay or work in a foreign country, given that the law provides that Qualified Filipinos Abroad refers to those who (a) have established permanent residency abroad or (b) those who are holders of a valid visa issued by a foreign country.
 
The National Internal Revenue Code and the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 already provide for much simpler definitions which the Bureau of Customs should follow.
 
The National Internal Revenue Code (Section 22 E) defines who non-resident Filipinos are for taxation purposes:
 
(E) The term 'nonresident citizen' means;
 
(1) A citizen of the Philippines who establishes to the satisfaction of the Commissioner the fact of his physical presence abroad with a definite intention to reside therein.
 
(2) A citizen of the Philippines who leaves the Philippines during the taxable year to reside abroad, either as an immigrant or for employment on a permanent basis.
 
(3) A citizen of the Philippines who works and derives income from abroad and whose employment thereat requires him to be physically present abroad most of the time during the taxable year.
 
(4) A citizen who has been previously considered as nonresident citizen and who arrives in the Philippines at any time during the taxable year to reside permanently in the Philippines shall likewise be treated as a nonresident citizen for the taxable year in which he arrives in the Philippines with respect to his income derived from sources abroad until the date of his arrival in the Philippines.
 
(5) The taxpayer shall submit proof to the Commissioner to show his intention of leaving the Philippines to reside permanently abroad or to return to and reside in the Philippines as the case may be for purpose of this Section.
 
The NIRC also defines how the income of the overseas contract worker shall be taxed:
 
Section 23 (C):
 
An individual citizen of the Philippines who is working and deriving income from abroad as an overseas contract worker is taxable only on income derived from sources within the Philippines: Provided, that a seaman who is a citizen of the Philippines and who receives compensation for services rendered abroad as a member of the complement of a vessel engaged exclusively in international trade shall be treated as an overseas contract worker;
 
In the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, we have Section 2 which amends Section 3, paragraph (a) of Republic Act No. 8042, as amended:
 
    “(a) “Overseas Filipino worker” refers to a person who is to be engaged, is engaged or has been engaged in a remunerated activity in a state of which he or she is not a citizen or on board a vessel navigating the foreign seas other than a government ship used for military or non-commercial purposes or on an installation located offshore or on the high seas; to be used interchangeably with migrant worker.” (END)

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Re: Burden on OFWs' Balikbayan Box
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2017, 06:30:48 PM »

goodness me. is this the reason why the box i sent to my sister hasn't arrived after almost six months? all the contents were clothes on sale, surplus ones, and no single receipt was issued. :(
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