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Solon wants to give OFWs and balikbayans a $6000 tax-free shopping benefit.

Marcelino “Nonoy” Libanan, the minority leader in the House of Representatives, wants to increase the total amount of tax-exempt purchases that returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and other balikbayans are permitted to make at duty-free shops run by the Department of Tourism from $3,000 to $6,000. (DOT).

In an effort to improve the privileges and benefits enjoyed by returning Filipinos under a 33-year-old statute that created the Balikbayan Program, Libanan has filed House Bill No. 6472.

In a news release on Sunday, Libanan stated that once the measure is in place, “we expect it to encourage a greater number of balikbayans to make their purchases here at home in DOT duty-free shops shortly after arrival, rather than in foreign stores, and help the Philippine economy generate more dollars.”

At DOT duty-free stores, Balikbayans are currently only allowed to make tax-exempt purchases of USD3,500.

Up to USD1,500 in discretionary consumer products and up to USD2,000 in “livelihood tools” may be purchased under the special “kabuhayan” shopping privilege and are included in the USD3,500 maximum.

The maximum for discretionary items would be raised to USD3,000 under Libanan’s proposal, while a second USD3,000 threshold for instruments used for one’s livelihood, such as computers, sewing machines, carpentry equipment, and farm equipment, would also be raised.

To take into consideration decades of cumulative price inflation and to make sure that the shopping privileges remain significant for the advantage of balikbayans, Libanan stated that “upward modifications in the permitted tax-exempt purchases are essential.”

The Balikbayan Program Law was passed by Congress in 1989 to entice Filipinos living abroad to return to their country.

In terms of the program, balikbayans are Filipino nationals who have been abroad for at least a year, OFWs, or former nationals of the Philippines, as well as their family members who have been naturalized abroad and have returned to the Philippines.

Balikbayans may make their tax-free purchases at DOT duty-free stores within 15 days of arrival, or within 30 days of arrival during the Christmas season (from November 15 to January 15 of every year).

At Terminals 1, 2, and 3 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the DOT operates three duty-free stores.

The department also operates five other duty-free stores at the following airports: Mactan-Cebu International Airport, Kalibo International Airport, Iloilo International Airport, and Fiestamall in Paranaque City.

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