Imported books used to be non-taxable in the Philippines. Until it was reported that for two months virtually no imported books entered the country. The booksellers were told by the Customs officials that imported educational and non-educational books will now be taxable by 1% and 5%, respectively. Allegedly, one of the contributing factors for this change is the success of Twilight (book) authored by Stephenie Meyer.
We are probably aware how marketable is Twilight Saga until now. Whether within the Philippines or not, I think the volume and frequency of importation will obviously be noticed by Customs officials. In the Philippines, it was reported that when Rene Agulan (a Customs Examiner) opened a shipment of Twilight books, a duty was demanded to be paid on it and the importer obliged. That is, while there is an existing Florence Agreement. This a U.N. treaty that was signed by the Philippines in 1952, guaranteeing the free flow of “educational, scientific, and cultural materials” between countries and declaring that imported books should be duty-free.
The said Customs Examiner demanded the duty because Twilight books in particular are not educational. Well, I agree. Not fitting to be categorized as a scientific (what about the study of “vegetarian vampires”?) or cultural material, too. But why are they implementing this just now? A lot of importation had been transacted in the past, the same way that a number of agreements and rules have been revisited, what went wrong in the interpretations?
It was mentioned in RA 8047 (the Book Publishing Industry Development Act) that “… the tax and duty-free importation of books or raw materials to be used in book publishing.” According to Customs Undersecretary Espele Sales, this lacked a comma after the word “books,” which meant that what was tax and duty-free was only books used for book publishing.
Generally, rulings/guidelines are revisited to assess their adequacy and applicability, to make it more reasonable and effective for the current situation. The same way that we are aware of the purposes of taxation, which are to generate revenues (funding), to distribute income (from wealthy to poor sections, if the government’s fair), to reprice (to address external factors) and as a representation (rulers and citizens relationship).
In UAE, taxation is less complicated primarily because income are non-taxable as well as the other vicious merchant’s activities. That’s why at times you probably would hear a number of people claiming that gadgets and other items are cheaper here. It’s because the government generally has enough funds due to its oil reserves and other sources (e.g. immigration fees, etc.). But sooner or later I’m seeing the possibility of imposition of duties on certain activities and items to discourage or encourage one aspect, whichever is necessary.
In the Philippines though, I’d like to think that more than the generation of funds as a main goal, the Bureau of Customs are doing the repricing to shift the readers preference (i.e. encouraging people to read educational, scientific and cultural materials). But I think not. We could only hope for an honest government. I think our Customs officials are inclined to become Orwellian. That is they do try to revise the history in the favour of the State’s interpretation of it.
The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax. – Albert Einstein
Now, don’t blame Twilight, huh?! Seriously, anything marketable and attractive are probable subject of taxation. Taxation is beautiful. If honest reciprocity is existing. 🙂
0 thoughts on “The art of taxation”
I agree with you WitsandNuts. if only Philippine gov’t is honest enough on the purpose of taxes there’s nothing debatable here but the thing is…they’re not. Funds are funds not for the common people but to the selected few.
same here, income tax is very much low compare in the mother country.
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i’ve read about this too yesterday in jessica zafra’s blog. i’m actually surprised na ngayon lang inimpose ang tax sa mga books sa atin, especially that these days, most young readers prefer fiction. i just hope that these taxes will not just be pocketed by the famed Customs officials.
i agree with Einstein.:D
if imported books will be taxed, then only the rich could afford to buy books. even second-hand books at Book Sale are expensive! i used to have a monthly budget for books—ngayon, di na kaya, except when they’re on sale, or pipikit na lang ako at bibili.
i hope book importers would protest the Customs interpretation.
luna mirandas last blog post..Kwebang Lampas – Watery Wednesday
naku! yang twilight talaga na yan! he! he! joke!
i guess the government found another money-making scheme…
i agree with Einstein! ang hirap nga intindihin ng tax! 😛
dyanies last blog post..Travel Memories
So sad that they’d always find ways to make money. Why start taxing now? I smell something fishy.
Masyadong matatalino ang mga Pinoy. Lahat ng pagkakataon na kumita eh ginagawa. Buti sana kung marami ang nakikinabang sa pera ng bayan. Haaay!
I am a buyer of many imported books so this will be quite significant for me—I just hope the government will spend the additional tax on programs for the poor.
dennis villegass last blog post..Manila Bay Summer Holiday
i was sad when i heard about it. maybe not on books. why not add tax on liquors and cigarettes?
dong hos last blog post..awesome philippines
I can tell you those Pinoy customs examiners interpret the duties being levied depending on their mood 😦
I actually prepared a post about the anatomy of tax but it is sitting in my draft folder for more than a year now 🙂 Lucky you, you’re not being taxed that much in UAE. That’s a big bonus !
bws last blog post..TEST OF HONESTY
Gosh, this would mean pricier books. Good thing I have completed the Twilight series, and also Harry Potter.
As the model citizen I am always trying to be, I have no qualms in paying taxes although I know a huge part of it probably doesn’t go where it’s supposed to. Oh well, Philippines.
I stopped by for PhotoHunt, but this post caught my eye. “…or cultural materials.” Twilight, and all fiction books, as well as movies, would be considered “cultural materials” and therefore would fall under whatever regulations cover that.
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Rach (Heart of Rachel)
It’s sad the additional taxes are suddenly placed on imported books. The government seem to know when to capitalize on an opportunity just like that one.
Rach (Heart of Rachel)s last blog post..Photo Hunt :: In Memory
huwat! i didn’t know about this. why would they tax books? but then again, knowing us pinoys, we would always find ways not to get taxed so i don’t think this initiative will have a great chance of succeeding.
What a coincidence! I was just reading about Obama’s proposed tax plans this morning. It doesn’t usually concern me kase I don’t live in the US naman… but apparently one of his plans WILL affect me. Because it’s so bad that it might lead to job cuts in the company I work in. YIKES!! 😦
Obama, what are you doing man??
Garandos last blog post..The Danger Of Sleeping
I buy books every single week. Fully Booked is my happy place. I don’t mind paying taxes as long as I can see that I as well as the rest of the country are reaping it. But sadly, this is not the case in the Philippines. Because of additional taxes on books, may bago na namang mansion na mabibili ang nasa gobyerno. 😦
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If only taxes go to the right projects and not to the pockets of politicians and government officials!
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