Chile loses US$200 million in tax due to internet shopping

Isabel Cocker/The Santiago Times Staff

SANTIAGO – In 2016, over 15 million packages entered Chile through e-commerce, costing some US$390 million. However, according to a report released this week by the Santiago Chamber of Commerce (CCS), there is a consistent lack of VAT or importation taxes paid by the consumer, which in 2016 resulted in a loss of up to US$200 million for the government.

Products with a value less than US$30 are exempt from border and import taxes, but the CCS has calculated that the average package has a value of US$50. The lack of VAT and import taxes paid on these parcels, which the report states is “an error in the interpretation of the border law”, is an “economic danger” to the government, according to El Mostrador.

In Chile, internet shopping is still the rarity as opposed to the norm, but it is growing in popularity and a survey by the CCS from earlier this year suggests that imported items from abroad make up 10% of the sector. The CCS has warned that if the laws for taxation on incoming packages are not more clearly defined and enforced, the government could see a loss of up to US$800 million from internet shoppers in 2018.

The CCS has suggested three proposals to ensure that e-commerce from abroad does not affect national enterprise. They would like correct VAT to be applied to all international products, the law for customs taxes and import charges to be applied equally to both international and national territories, and that taxation at customs be increased depending on the price of products.

The Internal Taxation Service (SII) commented that “we have revised plans regarding internet transactions, highlighting coordination with the National Customs Agency and contacting the different businesses and those who receive income through these systems”.

However, according to El Mostrador, the legislation has not changed and there are no specific laws regarding these types of operations.