Islamabad Implements Stricter Rules on Mobile Phone Imports: Overseas Pakistanis Face Double Depreciation on Used Devices
In a recent development, the Pakistani government has increased the depreciation on used or refurbished mobile phones brought into the country by overseas Pakistanis. The depreciation rate has surged from 30 percent to 60 percent, affecting the assessment of duties and taxes on these devices.
Interestingly, while the depreciation rates for incoming international passengers have doubled, commercial importers dealing in new mobile phones will now have to contend with higher customs values, leading to increased duties and taxes.
The move is part of the newly introduced valuation ruling number 1834 of 2023, which aims to strike a balance between facilitating overseas Pakistanis and ensuring fair taxation on mobile phone imports. The rationale behind this ruling is to provide maximum benefits to overseas Pakistanis by significantly increasing depreciation rates, especially on phones up to five years old brought into the country by international travelers.
The policy also introduces a progressive taxation approach for old phones brought in for personal use, offering relief to individuals while maintaining stringent measures for commercial importers. As a result, new models of mobile phones will now be subject to higher values compared to older models.
To address concerns about overcharging, the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to apply appropriate depreciated values based on the physical condition and model of used mobile phones. The FBR is also urged to adopt consistent and uniform valuation methods, taking into account the declared value unless there is clear evidence of misdeclaration.
Under the new ruling, bonafide passengers importing used or refurbished mobile phones will have their devices assessed based on customs values that incorporate allowances for depreciation. Additionally, for brands and models imported in commercial quantity but not included in the annexure, clearance Collectorates are advised to assess them under Section 81 of the Customs Act, 1969, and forward references to the Directorate for final determination of values.
This significant shift in mobile phone import regulations reflects the government’s commitment to fair taxation practices and aims to streamline the process for both individual users and commercial importers.