NPR Story
4:48 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Argentina Imposes Hefty Tax On International Online Shopping

Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 7:20 am

Transcript

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. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.