March 10, 2014
AFIP: only two web purchases per person
Tax agency makes more announcements
Argentine citizens making online purchases for products sent from abroad will now be limited to two transactions per year, after the AFIP tax bureau yesterday announced additional conditions for its latest control measure aimed at impeding capital flight, the initial details of which were released Tuesday.
AFIP described the measure in an additional resolution published yesterday in the Official Gazette as “two opportunities in the calendar year” for citizens to purchase merchandise online from foreign websites, and reiterated elements of Tuesday’s announcement like the 50-percent surcharge on every dollar spent above the annual limit of US$25 per person.
Any purchases beyond the new two-item limit will require a buyer to register as an importer, while if purchasing just one or two items whose total value exceed US$25 the buyer must complete a sworn statement online and pay the excess surcharge before collecting the items from the post or Customs.
AFIP has still not clarified if purchases arriving via private courier will be subject to the its latest requirements, which were defended by the national government yesterday.
Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich said at his daily press conference at Government House they aimed to “defend Argentines’ money and national industry.”
“Sixty-five percent of online transactions come from Hong Kong and China through a very aggressive strategy, and we hope to guarantee the transparency and fiscal sustainability of operations,” he said in reference to the AFIP’s two declarations over the past 48 hours.
He said the government was “defending national interests, and that has to be shared among everybody.”
“Who doesn’t want to defend what we’re defending,” he pondered. “I would like invite many of you to meetings with businesspeople to they can tell you what it means to enter the marketplace of other parts of the world, the effort it takes to penetrate countries to sell value-added Argentine products. It’s not an easy task.”
One significant question mark remains over the AFIP’s latest strategy for limiting capital flight: books.
While the tax bureau has indicated it will soon publish a list of excluded items, there is no mention in its latest resolutions to suggest that literary products for personal use are included in the measure — a likelihood that is consolidated by the controversy in early 2012 about barriers on book purchases from abroad.
The Domestic Trade Secretariat, then led by Guillermo Moreno, implemented control measures on books on the alleged request of the Argentine Federation of Graphic Industry (FAIGA) to ensure the safety of readers by monitoring lead levels and other products used in ink, forcing many online book shoppers to visit Customs to withdraw their shipments.
This measure was revoked in March after widespread social criticism.
Notwithstanding, there was one political figure who yesterday flirted with the prospect of books being included in the latest AFIP measure.
Former City lawmaker for the Victory Front (VpP), María Elena Naddeo asked rhetorically via the online social media site Twitter, if two books weren’t enough, sparking an outcry from fellow users of the site.
“We have to go back to buying Argentine, in this @jmcapitanich is very right. Let’s value what’s our. Let’s not buy abroad @PartidoFPP,” she said, linking her “Tweet” to the Twitter accounts of the Cabinet Chief and the VpF.
The new AFIP measure only applies to physical products so does not affect the purchase of services or digital products like electronic books or subscriptions to digital video services such as Netflix.
Online shoppers will now have to log into the AFIP website and complete a form — “Formulario 4500” — for all products that result from foreign transactions and arrive through the national post or other registered postal services.
Part of efforts by a government short on dollars to tackle currency flight at a time when the Central Bank’s reserves are running low, AFIP’s measures come in to effect immediately and will also affect merchandise that has already been paid for, but has not yet passed through Customs.
Herald staff with DyN