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Under DOF express lane, COVID vaccine imports enjoy quick tax, duty exemption processing

  • All importations of COVID-19 vaccines will be included in the Department of Finance (DOF) express service lane, also called the Mabuhay Lane, to allow quick processing of tax and duty exemptions
  • The finance chief also approved waiving of filing fees for COVID-19 vaccine applications and use of the Tax Exemption System Online Filing Module to process vaccine imports
  • COVID-19 vaccine tax exemption applications will be processed within 24 working hours

All importations of COVID-19 vaccines will be included in the Mabuhay Lane—the Department of Finance’s (DOF) express lane—to allow quick processing of tax and duty exemptions, according to the agency.

The measure has been approved by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, who also agreed to waive filing fees for COVID-19 vaccine applications in the Mabuhay Lane as well as the use of the Tax Exemption System Online Filing Module to process vaccine imports.

All this is meant to “further support the government’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program,” DOF said.

COVID-19 vaccine tax exemption applications in the Mabuhay Lane, the express service lane under the DOF’s Revenue Office, will be processed within 24 working hours, the department said in a statement.

DOF undersecretary for Revenue Operations Group Antonette Tionko recommended including COVID-19 vaccine imports in the Mabuhay Lane “regardless of the applicable legal basis” to “allow for the expedited processing of the tax and exemption of such applications.”

DOF said these tax exemption policies will be incorporated in the inter-agency guidelines on the implementation of a One-Stop Shop for International Donations and Government Procured COVID-19 Vaccines. The inter-agency guidelines are being prepared by DOF, Department of Health, Department of Foreign Affairs, Bureau of Customs, and Food and Drug Administration.

Under DOF Department Order (DO) No. 54-2000, the finance secretary is authorized to include additional sectors that may avail of the express service of the Mabuhay Lane.

“We add that the Mabuhay Lane currently processes all relief consignment under Section 120 in relation to 121 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA). The Lane is expected to process all COVID-19 vaccines which may qualify as relief consignment,” Tionko said.

Relief consignment refers to goods donated to national government agencies and accredited private entities for free distribution to, or for the use of, victims of calamities.

Under Section 121 of the CMTA, relief consignment imported during a state of calamity and intended for the use of calamity victims shall be exempted from the payment of duties and taxes.

Created on May 13, 1994 through DO 29-94, the Mabuhay Lane is tasked to quickly process the applications for the tax and duty exemption of certain groups of importers. These groups include export-oriented firms, returning residents (balikbayans) and non-profit, non-stock educational institutions.

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