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ATRIG not needed for VAT-exempt agri products, says BIR

  • Imports of perishable agricultural products such as unprocessed vegetables, fruits, and nuts do not require an Authority to Release Imported Goods (ATRIG) as they are VAT-exempt
  • The Bureau of Internal Revenue clarification is contained in Memorandum Circular 11-2021
  • The ruling was issued amid concerns of revenue officials and stakeholders over a requirement to secure an ATRIG to import VAT-exempt perishable agricultural food products

Imports of perishable agricultural products such as unprocessed vegetables, fruits, and nuts exempt from value-added tax payment do not require an Authority to Release Imported Goods (ATRIG), according to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

The clarification is contained in Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) No. 112-2021 dated September 6 but issued only on November 10.

“ATRIG shall no longer be necessary for the importation of perishable agricultural products such as the unprocessed vegetables, fruits, and nuts, which are exempt from VAT pursuant to Section 109(1A) of the Tax Code, as amended,” the circular said.

BIR issued the clarification after both revenue officials and stakeholders expressed concern over the requirement to secure an ATRIG for the above items.

An ATRIG is an authority issued by BIR, addressed to the Customs commissioner, allowing the release of imported goods from customs custody upon payment of applicable taxes or proof of exemption from payment, whichever is applicable.

BIR-Bureau of Customs (BOC) Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 1-2002, issued in September 2002 and circularized through BIR RMC No. 48-2002, provides a list of VAT-exempt imported products that no longer require the issuance of ATRIG. Through RMC 11-2021, BIR also amended RMC 48-2002.

RMC 11-2021 added the phrase “such as but not limited to” to the list of covered unprocessed vegetables, fruits and nuts under RMC 48-2002, particularly under sections C and D, which now reads:

  • UNPROCESSED VEGETABLES PRODUCTS (Whether whole, cut, sliced, broken, dried, fresh, chilled, frozen, shelled, skinned or split), such as but not limited to:
  • UNPROCESSED EDIBLE FRUITS AND NUTS (Whether fresh or dried, shelled or peeled), BUT NOT BOTTLED, POWDERED, OR CANNED, such as but not limited to:

There are 58 vegetable products listed under section C and 73 fruits and nuts listed under section D. Under RMC 48-2002, products under sections C and D are only required a phytosanitary certificate from the country of origin as well as a permit to import and a clearance from the Philippine Bureau of Plant Industry to be released from BOC custody.

Moreover, MC 11-2021 amended the last part of RMC 48-2002, which now reads:

“Pending resolution on the taxability of certain imported articles and the issuance of clear policies and procedures on the issuance of certifications from concerned regulatory government agencies, the appropriate ATRIG shall still be secured from the BIR on the following articles until such time that a supplemental Circular expanding the coverage of the above list shall have been issued:

  1. Feed and feed ingredient;
  2. Fertilizers: AND
  3. Articles subject to excise tax as well as on the raw materials, apparatus, or mechanical contrivances, and equipment specially used for the manufacture thereof.

MC 11-2021 removed “other VAT-exempt importation of goods not included in the above list” from the list of those still required an ATRIG under RMC 48-2002. – Roumina Pablo

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