THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said the list of pandemic goods exempt from value-added tax (VAT) has been expanded to include a new set of devices used in treating coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

In Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) 66 issued on May 2, the BIR endorsed a proposal from the Food and Drug Administration to grant VAT exemptions to more devices, in addition to the exemptions currently enjoyed by other products deemed vital in treating persons infected with the virus.

According to an annex to the RMC, the products included in the exempt list were air purifying respirators, negative-pressure steridomes, individual biocontaminant units, airway domes, negative-pressure respiratory systems, patient isolation transport unit devices, airborne isolation hood devices, continuous positive airway pressure circuits, intermittent positive pressure breathing devices, remote or wearable patient monitoring devices, patient isolation transport units, and symptom screening tools.

Removed from the exempt list were medical gas cylinders for oxygen as well as oxygen tanks.

The annex also clarified the exempt status of all types of ventilator.

The exemptions are authorized by the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act.

Non-exempt imported equipment and other pandemic goods are subject to 12% VAT.

According to the Department of Health’s COVID and Vaccination trackers, as of May 3, the Philippines had 5,145 active infections, while as of May 2, over 68 million individuals were completely vaccinated.

Over 13 million booster shots were also administered.

Most areas in the Philippines will remain under Alert Level 1 on election day, May 9, after the government’s pandemic task force extended the alert until May 15. — Tobias Jared Tomas