Seoul mulls further liberalization in tax-free purchases and exemption cap

2019.06.04 14:17:22 | 2019.06.04 15:12:02

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The South Korean government is mulling pushing up the ceiling on purchases at duty-free outlets from current $3,600 per person and tax exemption.

South Koreans can currently purchase goods worth up to $3,000, combined, at downtown and departure duty-free outlets and additional $600 at arrival outlets, but the government is planning to increases the purchase limit in the second half of this year to better reflect Korean’s income and inflation levels, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance on Tuesday.

The ministry will make the announcement on the change within this month.

The government has capped shopping at duty-free outlets from 1979 to discourage excess spending on foreign luxury products. Since then, the ceiling has been adjusted upward in line with rises in national income and consumer prices – to $1,000 in 1985, to $2,000 in 1995, and to 3,000 in 2006. Since last week, the government allowed Korean nationals to make additional purchases of up to $600 at arrival duty-free shops that opened for the first time at the country’s main gateway Incheon airport.

The ministry will also study raising the tax exemption limit, currently set at $600 per head. Korean nationals are eligible for tax-free benefits of up to $600 for purchases made at all duty-free shops and overseas stores plus additional tax exemptions for a limited amount of liquor, cigarette, and perfume. Those purchased at duty-free shops or overseas but entirely consumed before entering the country are not subject to customs.

By Sohn Il-seon and Cho Jeehyun

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