Another foreigner’s tax

We’re used to paying more just for being a foreigner. In a largely negotiation-based economy, we know that Chinese natives can almost always bargain for a better price for the things they buy than we can. Plus, we’ve been told straight to our face that because our salaries as foreigners are higher than average, it’s only fair that we pay higher prices.

The government is getting in on this now. Frequently, long-term residents have their luggage and personal items mailed to China, because of airplane luggage restrictions, bulky items, or just to get care packages from home. Customs has usually foregone taxing packages valued at less than $70.

Now they’ve lowered that value to $8. That means any box that is worth more than a McDonald’s value meal will now be subject to import taxes. And, according to our friends, the person who sets that tax is a local post officer, who will OPEN your box, personally assess the contents, and give you a 20% fee based on what they THINK the contents are worth.

Hmm.. Does Target ibuprofen retail as high as Advil? What’s the market value of back issues of Time magazine? Is that a new Rolex or a second-hand one (or a knockoff made in China!)?

Apparently the government will step in to save us lots of trouble. Maybe we shouldn’t even fill in the customs valuation forms anymore. There should be a postal stamp that says in Chinese: “Please open me for valuation”.

We’re glad our four boxes from home arrived just before this new law passed. But we’re reconsidering what to ask sent to us for Christmas!


2 Responses to “Another foreigner’s tax”

  1. 1 Chris Burgwald November 4, 2010 at 1:39 am

    Uh-oh… what does this mean for our annual Christmas shipment?

  2. 2 Mom November 7, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    China’s foreign trade practices are actually rising to the top of the news heap these days. Your blog posts (this one and the TOEFL student) provide ammunition for the “punish the cheaters” side. My opinion is that the Chinese are giving Machiavelli(wily Italians) a run for the money. Wasn’t Renaissance Italy based on strong international merchants?

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November 2010
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