Argentina Imposes Hefty Tax On International Online Shopping

In an effort to preserve its foreign currency exchanges, Argentina is imposing a 50 percent tax on any purchase above a $25 value made on international websites. The tax will be collected at customs offices where the packages have to be picked up.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Although, maybe not so many people subscribing in Argentina, that country has just imposed a heavy tax on international online shopping and it is restricting international online purchases to two per year.

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports on the government's attempt to shore-up dipping reserves of foreign currency.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: Online shopping is supposed to be about convenience - order by your computer, sometimes tax free, and bam, it's delivered straight to your door. But in Argentina, new rules have put in place a whopping 50 percent tax on orders above an annual $25 allowance. And you're only allowed to order internationally twice a year. To make sure you pay what you owe the government, your goods won't be delivered to your home, but rather to your local customs office, where it can take hours and lots of paperwork to get your boxes out.

Add this to the other economic restrictions already in place and you have an economy that analysts say is struggling. Argentines already have a quota for buying dollars that has given birth to a currency black market. Inflation has also skyrocketed, so many Argentines are struggling to even buy basic goods. Foreign credit card transactions, too, face a 35 percent tax.

Argentina though says it's been forced to take drastic measures. The country's hard currency reserves have fallen 30 percent in a year.

In 2001, its economy crashed and the government had to devalue the peso resulting in $200 billion default. Since then Argentina has had trouble securing international loads. It's used its foreign reserves to service its debts.

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.