To quote J’s sister, Isn’t the government supposed to have your back? But we all know that is
not always rarely the case.
Based on the many, many anecdotes I’ve heard from friends and strangers, the Bureau of Customs needs to be cleaned. We all have an idea of how awfully brutal this department is in collecting arbitrary amounts from citizens receiving gifts and goods from abroad.
Here’s my story: Threadless shirts went on sale for $9.99 each, so I bought three shirts for J and I and paid via PayPal. So that’s 29.97 plus 9 dollars for the shipping charge. I was warned by a friend not to exceed 50 dollars to avoid being taxed by Customs.
You see, Customs is so dirty that citizens dread having their goods pass through it.
The shirts were shipped via DHL, and landed in the Customs office of the Parañaque PO (J lives in Pqe). Listen: I receive books from the US, which often end up in the Makati PO Customs office. I pay a parcel fee of 40 pesos, which I still don’t get. Why can’t my packages just reach me directly instead of going through Customs? Why do I need to pay a parcel fee? I already paid for shipping, why do I need to pay an additional fee once the damn thing enters the Philippines? Why?
So we received a similar notification from Pqe PO that we have a package (yay!) and we need to pick it up there and pay 40 pesos (boo).
I have work so I can’t go there personally, so we asked J’s driver, Kuya B, to pick it up for us.
So he paid the parcel fee.
And then Customs, in its infinite glory, asked for more than 900 pesos in fees. Keep in mind that the shirts cost less than 1,300 in total. Customs is asking us to pay more than half of the total price of the goods we already paid to be shipped to us.
Here’s their breakdown, signed by Collecting Officer Genesia B. Osil:
Calculation for Customs Duty:
Declared/Assessed Value (29.97) x Exchange Rate = Dutiable Value (PhP1,268) x Rate of Duty (15%) = PhP190
Calculation for Expanded Value Added Tax:
Dutiable Value (PhP 1268) + Customs Duty (PhP 190) + Fixed Customs Documentary Stamp (PhP 250) + Import Processing Fee (PhP 250) + BIR Stamps (PhP 15) = EVAT Base (PhP 1973) x EVAT Rate (12%) = PhP237
ALL TOGETHER NOW:
PhP 190 + 237 + Fixed Customs Documentary Stamp (PhP 250) + Import Processing Fee (PhP 250) + BIR Stamps (PhP 15) = PhP 942 + Parcel Fee (40) = PhP 982
Almost a thousand pesos of fees and taxes for a package in a plastic bag that costs less than 1,300 pesos. You see how fucked up this is.
Because of the outrageous calculation, Kuya B spoke with the Customs guy. He haggled. Can you imagine – the fees are so arbitrary that Customs allowed haggling!
The Customs guy said, O sige, 500 na lang. Pero wala nang resibo.
500 na lang daw! Wow. MARAMING SALAMAT. Ang bait mo naman.
To end the conversation and to finally have the package released, Kuya B paid a total of PhP 540. Where did that money go? Did the guy just put that in his pocket?
You might say, You should be glad they asked for only 540 instead of the actual 982 written on the receipt. I’d say, No. Because are you kidding me?!
You might say, You shouldn’t have haggled. I’d say, But Kuya B was just asked to run this errand, and he wanted to get this package. I don’t blame him. I blame Customs.
You might say, If going through Customs is such a hassle, then just avoid receiving packages from abroad. I’d say, Really? That’s your solution?
If I had gone there myself, this Customs dude, and the entire PO, would have gotten an earful. But I didn’t. So we end up with this tale.
Government, I pay my taxes! A LOT OF TAXES! DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE BUREAU OF CUSTOMS!
And I will close this post with a smile and a Threadless shirt:
Do you have your own Customs horror story? Leave a comment.
UPDATE: Kind friends sent this post’s URL to Ruffy Biazon, Customs Commissioner, via Twitter. He replied. Read from the bottom up.
The Customs Commissioner himself sees no anomaly here, save for the haggling. So this is normal. So that’s that.
Tax computation reference. (IPF is the same for all items up to P250,000.)
UPDATE 2. Welp, got this message from a friend, which I RT’d.
Same item, same brand, different PO, different fees. And this is not arbitrary, Mr. Biazon? And this is okay?
Enough said. Move on na akech!